"For patients whose lung cancer can be removed by just taking out a portion of the lung, surgery following combined chemotherapy and radiation is the best approach," said lead investigator Albain, professor, division of hematology/oncology, department of medicine, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Ill.
"If the whole lung needs to be removed, surgery may be too risky and for these patients, the best option is the combination of chemotherapy plus radiation,h said Albain, who also is director, thoracic oncology program; director, breast clinical research program; and co-director of the multidisciplinary breast oncology center, Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola University Health System, Maywood, Ill.
These study results are the five-year outcomes update of the National Cancer Institute-sponsored North American Lung Intergroup trial 0139. Albain serves as the medical oncology study chair for the landmark Phase III trial, the only study of its kind in the world.
Participating in the study were 396 patients with stage IIIA N2 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Researchers divided the patients into two groups: the first group (194 patients) received concurrent chemotherapy and radiation. The second group (202 patients) received a regimen of chemotherapy and radiation followed by surgery.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women. NSCLC accounts for 87 percent of all diagnoses of lung cancer.