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New radiotherapy strategy improves survival for lung cancer patients


Study results presented at the 39th annual meeting for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) by Chandra P. Belani, M.D., professor of medicine, University of Pittsburgh and co-director, Lung Cancer Program, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), demonstrate that a new therapeutic radiation strategy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – the most common form of the disease – leads to improved survival for lung cancer patients with locally advanced disease.

n the study, hyperfractionated accelerated radiotherapy (HART) was compared to standard thoracic radiotherapy following chemotherapy. HART is a strategy in which radiation is administered frequently over a shorter period of time for two and a half weeks compared to seven weeks.

The phase III multi-site study compared HART to standard radiation therapy in 119 patients with unresectable stage III NSCLC. The patients were randomized into the two groups following two cycles of chemotherapy. Results indicated a median survival of 21 months for patients who received chemotherapy followed by HART, compared to a median survival of 12 months for patients who received chemotherapy followed by standard radiation therapy. One, two and three-year survival rates were 60 percent, 37 percent and 23 percent respectively in the HART group compared to one, two and three-year survival rates of 52 percent, 28 percent and 15 percent in the standard radiation therapy group.

"We found that chemotherapy followed by HART was an effective treatment strategy that was well tolerated by patients enrolled in the trial," said Dr. Belani, lead investigator of the study. "These data provide further verification that shortening the duration of radiation treatment may be an important therapeutic strategy for locally advanced NSCLC."

Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for almost 80 percent of lung cancers.

Clare Collins
Jocelyn Uhl
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Clare Collins | EurekAlert!
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