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By Scot Ackerman

M.D. on 10/09/2017

Chemoradiation Boosts Survival in Lung Cancer Patients

Two new studies presented last month at the American Society of Radiation Oncology’s annual meeting show survival rates are substantially higher in lung cancer patients who receive chemoradiation, a combined use of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

One long-term study that involved more than 500 patients with inoperable stage 3 lung cancer reported survival rates double those of previous estimates. Approximately 32 percent of patients with non-small lung cancer who received chemotherapy along with standard dose radiation were still alive five years after treatment.

A second clinical trial revealed that when individuals with metastatic lung cancer were given chemoradiation, the cancer’s progression was dramatically slowed. During the study, fourteen patients whose lung cancer had spread to six or fewer sites in the body were treated with radiation. Patients who received a combination of chemotherapy and radiation experienced a remission of 9.7 months, nearly triple the 3.5 months remission seen in patients who received chemotherapy alone. Additionally, the patients who were given chemoradiation did not experience any cancer recurrences in the areas that were irradiated.

Combined therapy is advantageous since both therapies work in different ways. Chemotherapy can combat cancer throughout the body – even cancer cells that have not yet been identified – but it cannot destroy a solid tumor. Precisely focused radiation has the ability to directly target and kill cancer cells. Studies such as these provide evidence as to the value of the combination.

It is important to also note that the side effects of chemoradiation in the trials was similar to those produced by chemotherapy alone. I believe both studies are significant and show that the two treatments work well together to combat advanced non-small cell lung cancer, a condition that has historically proven difficult to treat.

If you have any questions about treatment options for non-small cell lung cancer, please contact me at ackermanmd@ackermancancer.com

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