According to an article recently published in Thorax, treatment with photodynamic therapy is an effective strategy for patients who have early lung cancer located in the center of the lungs and are not eligible for surgery.

Lung cancer is responsible for more deaths than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer combined. Suboptimal long-term survival among patients with this disease is largely blamed on the fact that the majority of lung cancer is diagnosed once it has spread from its site of origin. However, if lung cancer is detected in its earliest stages prior to spread, patients may achieve long-term survival and even a cure.

Surgery is an important part of early lung cancer treatment. However, some patients are not eligible for surgery for reasons such cancer in a location that would make surgery dangerous or an inability to tolerate surgery.

Another possible approach to treatment of early lung cancer, Phytodynamic therapy (PDT), involves the use of specific wavelengths of light to kill cancer cells. Initially, an agent that specifically collects in cancer cells is administered into a vein. The agent collects in the cancer cells, and when the specific wavelength of light is applied to these cells, the reaction between the agent and the light kills the cancer cells. Since the agent tends to only collect in cancer cells, non-cancerous tissue is spared from side effects of therapy. PDT is still being evaluated as a treatment option for patients with various types of cancer.

Researchers from the United Kingdom recently conducted a clinical trial to further evaluate PDT in the treatment of early lung cancer. This study evaluated data from 200 patients who had early lung cancer located near the center of the chest and were not eligible for surgery. Treatment was performed on 21 patients.

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  • All patients achieved a complete disappearance of detectable cancer.
  • All patients reported that they were satisfied with the treatment, and only one patient developed a mild skin reaction.
  • Between 12–28 months, only three patients had died from cancer.

The researchers concluded that PDT can achieve long-term survival among patients with early lung cancer who are not eligible for surgery. Patients who are not eligible for surgery and have early lung cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of treatment with PDT or other promising therapeutic approaches.

Reference: Moghissi K, Dixon K, Thorpe J, et al. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) in early central lung cancer: a treatment option for patients ineligible for surgical resection. Thorax. 2007;62:391-395.

Related News:Treatment for Stage I Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer Should Not Be Delayed (08/15/2007)

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