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Radiation May Help Those With Inoperable Lung Tumors
Date:3/16/2010

3-year survival doubled after the treatment, study found

TUESDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- A carefully targeted and powerful regimen of radiation therapy kept early-stage lung tumors stable in patients who had inoperable cancers.

Almost 56 percent of patients who underwent the therapy, called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), were still alive three years after their treatment, according to preliminary findings from a study published in the March 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a themed issue on cancer.

By contrast, only about 25 percent to 30 percent of patients who receive conventional fractionated radiotherapy survive that long.

"Stereotactic body radiation therapy controlled peripheral small tumors in a large majority of patients and had an impressive overall survival rate at three years," said study lead author Dr. Robert Timmerman, professor of radiation oncology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, speaking at a Tuesday teleconference.

Unfortunately, the risk of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body was still high, the researchers noted.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health-funded Radiation Therapy Oncology Group is planning further trials to refine the procedure.

"The study was done by the leading radiation therapy research group in the world but it was very small," commented Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge. "It's provocative but it's not for all patients with lung cancer. This is for people who can't undergo surgery, so I think surgery is still the best way to treat early lung cancer," Brooks said.

"The radiation was effective at controlling the cancer in the spot but the cancer still has a high risk of spreading to other parts of the body," he added.

Patients who cannot undergo surgery for early-stage lung c
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