Stereotactic radiation therapy in non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with operable Stage I disease resulted in a 76% overall survival at three years. These findings were recently presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).[1]

Lung cancer is a major cause of death worldwide, with over one million deaths per year. Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer. Early-stage NSCLC is most often treated with surgical resection with or without the addition of radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. In some cases, patients may not be able to undergo surgery to remove their cancer due to underlying conditions such as emphysema or heart disease. Treatment of early-stage NSCLC patients who are unable to undergo surgery may include radiation therapy or observation. Strategies to improve treatment for this group of patients include stereotactic radiation therapy.

Stereotactic radiation therapy involves the very precise delivery of a large dose of radiation to a tumor while sparing normal tissue. Results from a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicate that patients with early-stage NSCLC who were medically unable to undergo surgery to remove their cancer had a 55.8% overall survival at three years following stereotactic body radiation therapy.[2] Researchers recently conducted a study to evaluate whether or not early-stage NSCLC patients eligible for surgery might also benefit from stereotactic radiation therapy.

In this Phase II Japanese study, researchers evaluated stereotactic radiation therapy among 65 patients with Stage I NSCLC that was considered operable. At three years, overall survival was 76% and progression-free survival was 54.5%. Side effects tended to be mild.

The researchers concluded that stereotactic radiation therapy is effective with few side effects and may provide Stage I NSCLC patients with an alternative to surgery, especially elderly patients.


[1] Nagata Y, Hiraoka M, Shibata T, et al. A Phase II Trial of Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy for Operable T1N0M0 Non-small Cell Lung Cancer. Japan Clinical Oncology Group (JCOG0403). Presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). November  , San Diego, CA. [Abstract 59].

[2] Timmerman R, Paulus R, Galvin J, et al. Stereotactic body radiation therapy for inoperable early stage lung cancer. JAMA. 2010;303(11):1070-1076.

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