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Higher radiation doses help some lung cancer patients live longer

Treating patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer more aggressively by giving them higher doses of radiation helps keep the disease from spreading and allows some patients to live longer, according to a new study published in the November 1, 2004, issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of ASTRO, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.

An estimated 45,000 to 50,000 people were diagnosed with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer in 2003 with an expected five-year survival rate of only 10 to 20 percent, according to the study. Although adding chemotherapy can help some patients live longer, in general survival rates are very low, particularly in comparison to other cancers.

In the study, 72 patients with stage III (or advanced) non-small cell lung cancer were split into two groups and treated with different doses of three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy in addition to chemotherapy. Of the 37 patients in the first group treated with a low dose of radiation therapy, 61 percent of the patients saw their cancer spread during the first year. By the second year, 76 percent of the patients had suffered a relapse. In contrast, of the 35 patients in the second group who were treated with a higher dose of radiation therapy, 27 percent of patients saw their cancer come back within the first year and 47 percent had suffered a relapse by the second year. Patients who received the higher dose of radiation also typically lived longer than their counterparts receiving the lower dose of radiation. The median survival time was 15 months for patients in the low-dose group compared to 20 months for patients who received the higher dose.

"Although breast cancer and prostate cancer are more prevalent, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death among men and women," said Ramesh Rengan, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist in the Department
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Contact: Beth Bukata
bethb@astro.org
703-227-0141
American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology
27-Oct-2004


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