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Combination Therapy to the Rescue off Lung Cancer Patients

A Combination of thermal ablation and radiation therapy, when used to treat patients who are in the early stages of inoperable lung cancer, increases chances of survival//, say researchers at Rhode Island Hospital.

In a retrospective study looking at patients over seven years, the median survival rate at three years increased from 20 months after radiation alone to 42 months when thermal ablation was followed by radiation for treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer. The results are published in the July issue of the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology.

"This study shows us that even patients who are not eligible for surgery can still get very good results," says senior author Damian Dupuy, MD, director of ultrasound at Rhode Island Hospital and professor of diagnostic imaging at Brown Medical School, both in Providence, RI. "By combining thermal ablation and radiation, you have a better chance of survival than with either treatment alone."

With radiation alone, overall survival rates were as follows:
one year – 57 percent
two years – 36 percent
three years – 21 percent

With thermal ablation and radiation, they were significantly higher:
one year – 87 percent
two years – 70 percent
three years – 57 percent

Surgery is the standard treatment for lung cancer. However, only one-third of patients with early stage lung cancer qualify for surgery because of other underlying medical conditions. Radiation therapy has long been used for inoperable lung cancer, and more recently, doctors have used radio frequency ablation (RFA) and microwave ablation, processes that heat tumors to destroy them. For patients who cannot have surgery or radiation, the median survival is about one year.

In this study, researchers looked retrospectively at 41 patients treated over seven years with thermal ablation (RFA or microwave ablation) and either standard radiation therapy or brachytherapy
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