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Postoperative radiation improves lung cancer survival for some
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2006 8:52 pm    Post subject: Postoperative radiation improves lung cancer survival for some Reply with quote


Postoperative radiation improves lung cancer survival for some
Will Boggs, MD

Last Updated: 2006-06-22 10:53:12 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Postoperative radiation therapy extends
non-small-cell lung cancer survival in patients with N2 nodal disease, but
shortens survival in those with stage N0 or N1 disease, according to a
report in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"The main thrust of the paper was to examine the impact of postoperative
radiation therapy in a time era that we felt was dominated by the use of
clinical linear accelerator, the current standard of care," Dr. Brian E.
Lally from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North
Carolina told Reuters Health.

In light of an earlier meta-analysis that suggested a detrimental effect
of postoperative radiation therapy on survival, Dr. Lally and colleagues
investigated the relationship between postoperative radiation therapy
using current technology and survival in 7465 lung cancer patients
randomized to postoperative radiation therapy or to observation

When all patients were included in the analysis, postoperative radiation
therapy was associated with significantly worse survival, the authors

In a multivariate analysis, older age, T3-4 disease, N2 nodal disease,
male sex, fewer sampled lymph nodes and a greater number of involved lymph
nodes had a negative impact on survival, but postoperative radiation
therapy had no significant impact on survival.

When patients were analyzed by nodal stage, however, survival differences

In patients treated with postoperative radiation therapy, slight decreases
in survival were seen for patients with N0 and N1 nodal disease, the
researchers note, whereas patients with N2 nodal disease realized a
significant increase in survival.

"In the N2 population, the (survival) curves diverge late," Dr. Lally
explained. "This would be consistent with sterilization of residual
microscopic disease. In the N0/N1 populations, the curves diverged early.
This would be consistent with postoperative radiation therapy being a
surrogate for a positive margin, a potential marker for a more aggressive
tumor but also one of the prognostic factors we were unable to account

"These results should be taken in the context that the adjuvant therapy
for lung cancer has changed," Dr. Lally said. "Chemotherapy is now
considered standard. As a profession, we need to watch and see if the use
of chemotherapy is going to impact the patterns of failure for N0/N1
patients." If it does, "radiotherapy will likely be needed."

"We are getting better at imaging and thus targeting tumors," Dr. Lally
added. "We are getting better at delivery the dose of radiation. As a
result I think patients who have their lung cancer resected should have
discussions with a radiation oncologist to determine if they would benefit
from the use of radiation. These decisions should be made on a case by
case basis."

J Clin Oncol 2006;24
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