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May 2018

More Patients with Lung Cancer Are Surviving Today

People who are newly diagnosed with lung cancer have reason to breathe a sigh of relief. Thanks to advancements in treatment options, more people are surviving early-stage lung cancer, according to new research in the journal The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Woman smiling, with her hands up over her head

For the study, researchers looked at data for more than 64,000 patients treated for stage 1 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) between the years 2000 and 2010. NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer. Stage 1 means that the tumor is small and hasn’t spread beyond the lung.

More treatment, better results

Researchers looked at patients who underwent surgery or radiation therapy for treatment.

Rates of these treatments increased during the course of the study. Whereas about 58% of patients had surgery in 2000, 64% of patients had surgery in 2010. While 17% of patients underwent radiation therapy in 2000, 18% had radiation therapy in 2010.

During the decade-long study, researchers found that the 2-year survival increased from 61% at the start of the study to 70% at the end. The risk for death decreased by 3.5% per year. The increase in survival is likely because of better treatment options that are more widely available today. For example, surgical procedures are less invasive. In addition, stereotactic body radiation therapy is a type of radiation that’s often used to treat lung cancer. With the procedure, doctors are able to more precisely target tumors with radiation while avoiding nearby healthy tissue.

Screening is available

People are more likely to survive lung cancer when they’re diagnosed at an early stage. Screening is available that can help detect lung cancer sooner. Screening involves a yearly low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan of the lungs. You may be eligible for a LDCT if you are 55 to 80 years old with a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or quit within the last 15 years.

Talk with your doctor about whether a lung cancer screening test may be right for you.



Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 1/4/2018
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