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Treatment improves for lung cancer patients

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http://www.king5.com/health/cancer/stor ... f8328.html

05:59 PM PDT on Wednesday, August 3, 2005


There’s new hope for lung cancer patients. For the first time in decades, there's been a major shift in treatment, resulting in patients living longer, with a better quality of life.

KING 5's Jean Enersen reports

These days, it's hard keeping up with 65-year-old Lily Ywai. A year ago, a persistent cough began to slow her down.

“I thought it was a side effect of the blood pressure medicine I take,” she said.

But she was wrong, It was lung cancer, although Lily had never smoked.

After surgery, she was offered chemotherapy, which until now wasn't thought to work in lung cancer patients. Recent studies have shown otherwise.

At the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Dr. Renato Martins has been offering this treatment for more than a year.

"It can prolong their life, but it can also improve the quality of their life by minimizing the symptoms that are related to their disease,” he said.

Lily Ywai has recovered from lung cancer.

Then there's Tarceva, a pill for patients with advanced stages of lung cancer who've already been through one round of chemo and failed.

“If you look at what happened in the 30 years before now, and just what happened last year, it's a big difference from what we had before,” Martins said.

As a result, he said lung cancer patients like Lily are now surviving longer and with a better quality of life.

“She's doing everything she wants to do,” Martins said. “That's what we should aim for.”

Lily would agree. She's also doing her part to stay healthy with exercise and taking her green tea along on her daily walks.

Recent studies showed that 69 percent of lung cancer patients who had surgery and chemo were still alive after five years.

Only about half of the surgery-only patients survived that long.

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