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Interesting article from MSNBC website


Hebbie

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Found this article on MSNBC website.

June 2 — Treatment advances ranging from drugs to surgery are prolonging survival and improving quality of life for victims of lung cancer, a disease which strikes 1.2 million people worldwide each year, researchers reported Monday.

TAKEN TOGETHER, the new studies challenge existing methods and “will change the practice of lung cancer therapy,” said Bruce Johnson, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard.

He presided over a news briefing at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology at which several lung cancer studies were discussed, including one involving 1,867 patients in 33 countries across five continents.

CHEMOTHERAPY AND SURGERY

That study, led by Thierry Le Chevalier of the Institut Gustave Roussy in France, tested whether administering chemotherapy following surgery — even though there is no evidence the disease has spread — improved survival for the most common form of lung cancer.

Half of the patients in the study relied on surgery alone and the other half were given cisplatin, a common chemotherapy drug. After five years, he reported, survival was 5 percent longer in the patients who received the drug.

“A 5 percent increase in survival is significant enough to recommend chemotherapy after surgery,” he said. Worldwide, he added, the 5 percent figure translates into 7,000 fewer lung cancer deaths annually.

Current post-surgery practice in treating lung cancer does not generally resort to chemotherapy — which can cause serious side effects — unless there is evidence the disease is spreading.

A second study from Japan covering the same issue and involving 979 early stage lung cancer patients found that those given the chemotherapy drug UFT after surgery had a five-year survival rate of 87.9 percent compared to 85.4 percent for those who only had the surgery.

The report from Tokyo Medical University said the drug, which is not commercially available in the United States, had significantly fewer side effects that other forms of chemotherapy. The finding is likely to “improve the standard of care” for patients with early stage lung cancer, said Masahiro Tsuboi, an investigator for the study.

SPINAL CORD COMPRESSION

In another development, Roy Patchell of the University of Kentucky reported success with surgery “using things like plastics and Super Glue,” to correct spinal cord compression, a complication of lung and other cancers that often leads to paraplegia.

The surgery “results in a big improvement in quality of life for these patients,” he told the briefing, allowing them to continue walking much longer than other patients who are not treated. He called the surgery “one of the most significant advances in 30 years for the treatment of spinal cord compression.”

His study involved 101 patients half of whom were given both surgery and radiation treatment and the rest radiation only.

Another intervention was reported by Kathy Albain of the Loyola University Cancer Center in Chicago, who said that a combination of radiation and either chemotherapy or surgery significantly improved survival for lung cancer patients in cases where the cancer had spread to lymph nodes under the breast bone.

Her study involved 411 patients with the same kind of cancer as the other studies — non-small cell lung cancer, which accounts for about 80 percent of all lung cancer cases.

Adding either surgery or chemotherapy to radiation was superior to radiation only, she said, meaning that “We now have two very promising options to discuss with patients that offer them a better chance curing their cancer.”

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