Greater number of advanced lung cancer patients receive chemotherapy than previously thought

Approximately half of patients with advanced lung cancer receive chemotherapy, according to a study published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology (2010 Oct;5(10):1529-35).

In a retrospective analysis of patients diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), researchers discovered that chemotherapy was administered to approximately half of all patients, which is more than twice the rate reported in some earlier studies. Specifically, among 718 patients who met criteria, 353 received chemotherapy (49%). In addition, median survival for the group which received chemotherapy was 9.2 months, compared with 2.3 months for untreated patients.

“Most of the SEER studies reported data from the early 1990s. Over the past 10 years, advances in diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care may have expanded the patient population considered for cancer therapy,” explained senior investigator David Gerber, MD, of the Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “Furthermore, physicians may not be aware of the growing evidence in support of chemotherapy for advanced NSCLC. It is hoped that future developments in this field increase not only treatment efficacy but also the proportion of patients able to benefit from them.”

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