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According to results recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, further evidence demonstrates a survival benefit with the addition of chemotherapy to surgery, compared to surgery alone, in patients with early non-small cell lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and Europe. The most common type of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), is a malignancy that arises from the tissues of the lung. Early NSCLC refers to cancer that has not spread from the lung, and standard treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Recent clinical studies have indicated that patients with early NSCLC who undergo surgery derive a benefit from the addition of chemotherapy, referred to as adjuvant chemotherapy. Several chemotherapy combinations exist for adjuvant treatment of NSCLC, with no clear survival benefit of one combination over another demonstrated as of yet. Often, chemotherapy agents or combinations of agents are chosen according to a patient’s overall health and ability to tolerate the specific drug(s). Researchers continue to evaluate the benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy in early NSCLC and its role in the clinical management of the disease, as well as compare different treatment regimens in this group of patients.

Researchers from Japan recently reviewed data from 11 previous clinical trials that included nearly 6,000 patients with early NSCLC. The trials reviewed included patients who were treated with either surgery alone or surgery plus adjuvant chemotherapy and were directly compared. Overall, patients treated with adjuvant chemotherapy had a 13% increased overall survival benefit over those who were treated with surgery alone. Specifically, patients treated with a regimen including the chemotherapy agent cisplatin had an 11% increased survival and those treated with single-agent tegafur had a 21% increased survival, compared to patients treated with surgery alone. Side effects experienced by adjuvant chemotherapy were generally mild.

The researchers stated that this study provides further evidence indicating adjuvant chemotherapy following surgery improves survival in patients with early NSCLC and has a role in the clinical management of this disease. It is important for patients with early NSCLC who are eligible for surgery to speak with their physician about their individual risks and benefits of receiving adjuvant chemotherapy, as well as the risks and benefits of treatment with specific chemotherapy agents or combinations of agents, as different side effects are associated with each chemotherapy drug.

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Reference: Hotta K, Matsuo K, Ueoka H, et al. Role of Adjuvant Chemotherapy in Patients With Resected Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Reappraisal With a Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of Clinical Oncology. Early online publication available at

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