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Surgery Deemed Fitting for Some Stage IIIB NSCLC Patients

Longer overall survival in patients undergoing surgical resection, compared to chemo-radiation only

THURSDAY, June 4, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Patients with stage IIIB non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) could live longer by undergoing surgical resection, instead of receiving only chemotherapy and radiation, according to research published in the June issue of The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Varun Puri, M.D., an assistant professor of surgery in the division of cardiothoracic surgery at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues evaluated data from the National Cancer Database on 9,173 patients with stage IIIB NSCLC who underwent a combination of treatments between 1998 and 2010. Of these patients, 7,459 were treated with chemotherapy and radiation only, while 1,714 also had surgery in addition to those treatments.

The researchers found that average overall survival in the surgical group was nearly 26 months, compared to just over 16 months in the chemo-radiation group.

“We think our study reignites a question that was initially asked in the 1980s and 1990s but has become more or less dormant in lung cancer circles,” Puri told HealthDay. According to Puri, the take-home message from the study is that “we should not consider all stage IIIB NSCLC patients as being eligible for only chemo-radiation therapy. An experienced thoracic surgeon should evaluate these patients and decide [if surgery is also an option] on a case-by-case basis.”

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