According to a recent early on-line publication in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, treatment-induced anti-cancer response rates are associated with survival in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) refers to the type of cell within the lung that the cancer originated, and comprises the majority of lung cancer cases in the United States. Once NSCLC has spread to distant sites in the body, treatment is not commonly aimed at producing a cure, but at extending the duration of survival and/or improving the quality of life of a patient. However, the side effects caused by treatment are often severe, ultimately decreasing the quality of the remaining life of a patient, and the extent of duration of life with chemotherapy compared to best supportive care has not yet been well documented. Therefore, patients with advanced NSCLC are often faced with a difficult decision in whether or not to undergo therapy or receive best supportive care to keep them comfortable.

Researchers from the May Clinic recently conducted a study to evaluate data regarding a possible correlation of treatment and survival in advanced NSCLC. The data included a search from PubMed, which is a listing service that provides access to data from several published articles. The literature on PubMed included 16 clinical trials that directly compared chemotherapy to best supportive care in patients with advanced NSCLC. Overall, a 2% increase in anti-cancer responses correlated with approximately a 1% increase in survival at one year. In trials demonstrating at least a 20% increase anti-cancer response rate with chemotherapy, the one-year survival was increased by 16% compared to best supportive care.

The authors concluded that lending data to involving chemotherapy for treatment of advanced NSCLC can help support or refute a treatment decision, as well as allow for the optimal chemotherapy regimen based on facts. Patients with advanced NSCLC may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of specific chemotherapy regimens, or the participation in a clinical trial evaluating novel therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute ( and Personalized clinical trial searches on behalf of patients are also performed at

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Reference: Shanafelt T, Loprinzi C, Marks R, et al. Are chemotherapy response rates related to treatment-induced survival prolongations in patients with advanced cancer? Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2004;22:issue 9. Early on-line publication. Available at: Accessed May 2004.

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