Stage I, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients who received radiation therapy have an increased median survival of 21 months compared to 16 months, and the percentage of patients who receive no treatment declined from 20 percent to 16 percent, respectively, when comparing the two eras evaluated, 1999-2003 and 2004-2008, according to detailed analysis of the SEER-17 (Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results, National Cancer Institute) national database presented at the 2012 Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology.
This symposium is sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) and The University of Chicago.
Stage I NSCLC has traditionally been treated effectively with surgery in patients who are otherwise healthy. For patients who are not good candidates for surgery, technological advances in radiation therapy have allowed for high-dose, targeted, non-invasive and painless radiation treatment as an alternative curative option. This study evaluated 53,764 patients with stage I NSCLC -- 27,469 from 1999-2003 and 26,195 from 2004-2008. The data demonstrated a 12-month increased overall survival for all patients with stage I disease in the later era -- from 44 months to 56 months. The proportion of patients who received surgery increased from 64 percent to 70 percent, while the proportion of patients who were treated with radiation therapy alone was relatively stable at 14 percent and 13 percent in the later era. The number of patients who received neither radiation or surgery remained high for both eras -- 5, 514 patients, or 20 percent, from the earlier period, and 4,218, or 16 percent, in the later time frame.
"Stage I NSCLC patients who receive radiation therapy alone are surviving longer than they used to," said lead author Nirav S. Kapadia, MD, a chief resident in the department of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, Mich. "However, at least 16 percent of patients are still not getting the care that they need -- care that could save their lives. We must identify the barriers to treatment so that every patient has hope for a cancer cure."
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