Radiation therapy for lung cancer not the answer!

Radiation therapy for lung cancer not the answer!

Radiation therapy after surgery for non-small-cell lung cancer may do more harm than good, according to a study in The Lancet.

Non-small-cell cancer is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for about 80% of cases. Even after surgery, the cancer often returns, and only about 40% of patients will still be alive five years after the operation.

In the attempt to improve these odds, many patients undergo a course of radiation therapy after surgery in the hope of treating any remaining cancer cells.

But this approach, called post-operative radiotherapy (PORT), is controversial. Studies looking at the effectiveness of PORT have given inconclusive or conflicting results.

To try to resolve the debate, an international research team, the PORT Meta-analysis Trialists Group, led by Dr. Lesley A. Stewart from the MRC, Cambridge, UK, used a technique called meta-analysis to combine data from a number of small trials of PORT to create, in effect, one large study.

The researchers identified 2,128 patients from nine suitably designed randomized trials. Of these, 1,056 had received surgery and radiation and 1,072 surgery alone.

The researchers found that significantly more deaths occurred among those who had received the radiation therapy than among those treated solely with surgery.

Overall, there was a 21% increased relative risk of death in the PORT group. The detrimental effect of radiation was greatest in patients with early-stage disease. In those with more advanced but still operable disease, PORT did not seem to cause harm, but did not seem to help either.

"The 21% relative increase in the risk of death associated with radiotherapy, equivalent to an overall reduction in survival from 55% to 48% at two years, represents a substantial hazard to these patients," wrote Dr. Stewart and colleagues.

SOURCE: "Radiation therapy after surgery for lung cancer," The Lancet, July 24, 1998.

The Chiropractic Journal.

Share this with your friends