Kim hopes that future studies will identify patients at higher risk for heart problems (the greatest risk factor is age), and take that into account. It's also unclear at this point how long individuals should take Celebrex.
As for patients who already have the disease, Kim said, "I hope we can keep you alive until you have a heart attack, because that means we have treated your lung cancer very well."
Another study also presented at the meeting found that PET/CT (positron emission tomography/computed tomography) imaging more accurately staged lung cancer cases, sparing more patients from inappropriate surgery.
PET imaging identified 14 percent of patients who had cancer too advanced for surgery, while conventional work-ups only identified 7 percent of such patients for whom surgery would have been inappropriate.
"PET can replace conventional tagging in early stage non-small cell lung cancer," said study investigator Dr. Donna E. Maziak, of the Ontario Clinical Oncology Group in Hamilton, Ontario.
Visit the National Cancer Institute for more on lung cancer.
SOURCES: June 1, 2008, news conference with Edward Kim, M.D., assistant professor, thoracic head and neck medical oncology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, and Donna E. Maziak, M.D.C.M., Ontario Clinical Oncology Group, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Shakun Malik, director, lung cancer program, Lombardi Cancer Center, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.; Karen Reckamp, assistant professor, medicine, City of Hope Cancer Center, Duarte, Calif.; June 1, 2008, presentations, American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, Chicago
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