Lung cancer has long been one of the leading cancer killers among both men and women in the United States. With an estimated 221,000 new cases diagnosed annually and nearly 160,000 deaths, this particular form of the disease doesn’t have the best prognosis. Doctors are finding, however, that when early detection is combined with the right treatments, the outlook can be much more encouraging. While surgical removal of tumors is often indicated, researchers are finding that radiotherapy may in fact offer lung cancer patients a higher chance of survival when the disease is caught early.
Research supporting the use of stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) instead of invasive surgery to remove tumors in early stages of the disease shows this procedure offers a great deal of hope for patients. The phase III randomized study, which took place on an international scale, was published in The Lancet Oncology recently.
The study found that both therapies are at least equally effective and that radiotherapy may be better tolerated by patients, leading to increased survival outcomes. Overall, the study involved 58 patients that were divided into two groups, one receiving surgery and the other radiotherapy. Estimated 3-year survival rates were about 79 percent in the surgery group and 95 percent in the radiotherapy group. Recurrence-free survival rates in the two groups at 3 years were 80 percent and 86 percent, respectively. In total, six patients died in the surgery group while one death was experienced in the SABR group.
The bottom line, researchers say, is that radiotherapy seems to be as effective as surgery and may offer benefits for patients in regard to lessening the possibility of complications. The study also speaks to the need for early detection of the disease where survival rates tend to be much higher. People who are concerned about lung cancer are urged to speak with their doctors about risks and the potential for early detection screenings.