An extra layer of treatment may help those with non-small cell lung cancer enjoy longer, progression-free lives. That’s the outcome of a recent study that looked into the potential benefits of adding radiation therapy into a treatment plan that also includes surgery. This additional step, in fact, demonstrated statistically significant improvements in tumor control.
The study that came to those conclusions involved the analysis of about 80 patients who all underwent post-operative radiation therapy in addition to surgery meant to remove their tumors. A few of the patients also had chemotherapy. At the three-year mark, researchers found those treated with radiotherapy enjoyed an overall survival rate of 34.1 percent. The progression-free survival rate was 29.1 percent. Localized progression and distant progression figures were also improved for those who underwent radiation.
While the numbers might not seem impressive on the surface, they are. Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States. An estimated 224,390 people are diagnosed with the disease each year. An estimated 158,000 die from it annually. While early detection and treatment measures are improving with new research and study, this disease remains one of the most difficult to treat. This is especially so when the cancer is detected at later stages when even surgical tumor removal might not be possible.
For those with non-small cell lung cancer, the addition of radiotherapy may help improve their overall prognosis. Even so, the best course of treatment will depend on the particular case of lung cancer in question and its stage. Patients are urged to discuss their treatment plans with their healthcare providers. Radiation may be indicated in some cases, but patients should also be fully informed about the potential risks and benefits of this additional layer of treatment.
People who are at risk for lung cancer should speak with their doctors about screening. Early detection methods are available for those with a high risk for this disease’s development, such as long-term, heavy smokers.