According to an article recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, chemotherapy plus radiation therapy provides superior progression-free and overall survival compared to radiation therapy alone following initial chemotherapy for the treatment of Stage III non–small cell lung cancer.
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men and women. Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer. “Non–small cell” refers to the type of cell within the lung where the cancer originated.
Stage IIIA NSCLC refers to cancer that is a single tumor or mass and is not invading any adjacent organs; it involves one or more lymph nodes away from the tumor, but not outside the chest. Stage IIIB NSCLC refers to cancer that has spread to more than one area in the chest, but not outside the chest.
One of the main components of standard therapy for stages IIIA-IIIB NSCLC is chemotherapy, with or without radiation therapy. Researchers continue to evaluate optimal regimens and schedules of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to improve outcomes among patients with this disease.
Researchers from Germany recently conducted a clinical trial to compare treatment including initial chemotherapy followed by additional chemotherapy plus radiation therapy or radiation therapy alone. This trial included 214 patients with Stages IIIA or IIIB who were initially treated with the chemotherapy agents Taxol® (paclitaxel) and Paraplatin® (carboplatin), followed by either additional Taxol plus radiation therapy or radiation therapy alone.
- Half of patients treated with additional chemotherapy and radiation therapy were alive at nearly 19 months, compared with 14 months for those treated with additional radiation therapy alone.
- Among patients treated with chemotherapy plus radiation therapy, half had not experienced disease progression at 11.5 months, compared with only 6.3 months for those treated with radiation therapy alone.
- Overall rates of side effects were not significantly different between the two groups of patients.
The researchers concluded that patients with Stages IIIA-IIIB NSCLC appear to benefit more from chemotherapy plus radiation therapy than from radiation therapy only following initial chemotherapy. However, it is important for patients to discuss their individual risks and benefits of all treatment regimens with their physicians.
Reference: Huber R, Flentje M, Schmidt M, et al. Simultaneous Chemoradiotherapy Compared with Radiotherapy Alone After Induction Chemotherapy in Inoperable Stage IIIA or IIIB Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer: Study CTRT99/97 by the Bronchial Carcinoma Therapy Group. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2006;24:4397-4404.
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