High-dose radiation improves lung cancer survival

April 8, 2009

Higher doses of radiation combined with chemotherapy improve survival in patients with stage III lung cancer, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Standard treatment for this stage of - when the tumor is likely too large to be removed through surgery - involves a combination of with . But, this new study finds, giving chemotherapy at the same time as the radiation enhances the effect of both. Further, increasing the dose of radiation over the course of treatment also increased survival.

"When patients are diagnosed with stage III lung cancer, surgery is often not an option, and survival rates are typically quite low. Finding new ways to improve survival, even in small increments, is crucial," says senior study author Feng-Ming Kong, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of at the U-M Medical School and chief of radiation oncology at the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System.

The study, published in the April 1 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, looked at 237 patients who had been treated for stage III non-small cell lung cancer at U-M and the VA Ann Arbor.

The researchers compared survival among patients treated with radiation alone, with radiation followed by chemotherapy, and with radiation and chemotherapy given at the same time. Thirty-one of the patients were also enrolled in a study in which the was increased throughout the course of the treatment.

Patients treated with radiation alone had the worst overall survival rates, living only an average 7.4 months after diagnosis. Adding chemotherapy increased survival to 14.9 months when it was administered after completing radiation and 15.8 months when administered at the same time as radiation. After five years, 19.4 percent of the patients receiving concurrent chemotherapy were still alive, compared to only 7.5 percent of patients receiving sequential chemotherapy.

"Our study shows chemotherapy helps, and high dose radiation helps. But it's challenging to administer these treatments at the same time because of the potential toxicity associated with the high dose radiation," Kong says.

U-M researchers are currently looking at using PET imaging during the course of lung cancer treatment to personalize high dose radiation therapy in many individual patients. As the tumor becomes smaller during treatment, increasing the radiation dose will become more tolerable because it is targeting a smaller area. The U-M researchers believe this strategy could lead to improved treatment outcomes in many patients. Kong currently leads a clinical trial that is following patients through their treatment to look at the impact on survival of increasing radiation dose.

More information: International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, Vol. 73, No. 5, pp. 1383-1390

Source: University of Michigan Health System (news : web)

Explore further: Combination therapy spares some head and neck patients from surgery

Related Stories

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.