Magazine article Science News

Lung Cancer Radiation Uses Questioned

Magazine article Science News

Lung Cancer Radiation Uses Questioned

Article excerpt

A review of cancer studies over the past 30 years yields disturbing results about the use of radiation of treat some types of lung cancer.

Data from nine studies of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer show that radiation treatments after surgery actually hurt the survival chances of many patient, particularly those whose cancer hadn't spreader initially. The findings appear in the July 25 Lancet.

Non-small-cell malignancies include about a dozen forms of lung cancer and account for 80 percent of cases. Of these, about a fifth are treatable with surgery, which may be followed by radiation treatment or chemotheraphy.

Lesley A. Stewart of the Medical Research Council Cancer Trials Office Cambridge, England, and her colleagues examined data on 2,128 patients in several countries. About half had been randomly assigned to receive post-operation radiotherapy. This group included some patients whose lung cancers had not spread to lymph nodes.

The survival rate 2 years after surgery was 48 percent for those getting radiation treatments and 55 percent for surgery-only patients. The sole study showing a clear with advanced cancer. The greatest detriments of radiation treatment showed up in three studies that included patients whose cancer hadn't spread to lymph nodes.

"In centers where radiotherapy might be given routinely for non-small-cell lung cancer, [doctors] may have to rethink their standard policy," says Stewart, a biologist and statistician. …

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