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Radiation after surgery doubles survival time for some lung cancer patients

Patients with lung cancer that has spread to mediastinal lymph nodes ?located between the chest, breastbone and spine ?who receive radiation after surgery and chemotherapy live twice as long as patients who do not receive radiation after surgery, according to a study presented at the plenary session November 6, 2006, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's 48th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

The study was part of a larger randomized study, ANITA 1, which examined the effectiveness of chemotherapy after surgery in 840 non-small cell lung cancer patients and found that additional chemotherapy after surgery improves overall survival in cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. In this study, radiation was not randomized nor mandatory but only recommended for patients whose disease had spread to the lymph nodes. 232 lung cancer patients received radiation after undergoing surgery to remove their tumor with or without chemotherapy.

Researchers found that additional radiation after chemotherapy benefited patients whose cancer had spread to mediastinal lymph nodes. At that stage, those who underwent chemotherapy and radiation after surgery lived almost two years longer (47 versus 24 months) than those patients who had only chemotherapy after surgery. "This is the first time that a clinical trial has examined the effectiveness of radiation after surgery for lung cancer," said Jean-Yves Douillard, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and a medical oncologist at the Centre Rene Gauducheau in St Herblain, France. "The results show that radiation treatment should be considered for resected non-small cell lung cancer with involved mediastinal lymph nodes in addition to chemotherapy. The data observed in this study, however, needs to be confirmed in a prospective randomized trial of radiation, in addition to chemotherapy."

Source:American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology

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