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Patients who have had lung cancer should receive regular follow-up screening for the early detection of second cancers, according to a recent article in the journal Chest.

Lung cancer patients are at an increased risk for later developing a second cancer, which is comprised of the same cell type as that of their primary lung cancer. If the second cancer is detected early, while it is still small, surgical removal of the cancer may produce long-term survival.

Recently, researchers from The Oregon Clinic evaluated data regarding the treatment and outcomes of approximately 40 lung cancer patients. All of these patients had developed second cancers that consisted of their primary lung cancer pathology (cell type). These patients underwent aggressive surgical removal of their second cancers.

Among these patients, over half survived longer than two years following their surgery, and approximately one quarter survived 5 or more years. The probability of these patients achieving long-term survival was significantly enhanced if their second cancers were caught early.

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These results are of important significance, as they indicate a direct correlation between the early detection and treatment of a second cancer and the achievement of long-term survival. Moreover, these results indicate the importance of a regular screening program as a follow-up regimen for patients who have had lung cancer. Screenings can promote the early detection of second cancers, significantly improving chances for a cure. Patients who have had lung cancer should discuss a follow-up screening regimen with their doctors.

Lung cancer patients may also wish to speak with their physician about participating in a clinical trial evaluating novel screening procedures and/or regimens. Two sources of information about ongoing clinical trials include comprehensive, easy-to-use services provided by the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) and eCancerTrials.com. eCancerTrials.com also provides personalized clinical trial searches on behalf of patients. (Chest, Vol 118, pp 1526-1529, pp 1621-1625, 2000)

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