Procedure Improves Outcomes in Lung Cancer Cases

Intraoperative brachytherapy boosted survival odds for high-risk patients

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TUESDAY, Jan. 25, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- A combination of intraoperative brachytherapy with sublobar surgical resection improves outcomes for high-risk lung cancer patients, says a new study by researchers at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Intraoperative brachytherapy involves inserting tiny pellets that contain radioactive medication into an area of the lung from which a tumor has been surgically removed. Sublobar resection is a procedure in which only a small part of the lung is removed.

This study of 167 patients with stage 1b non-small cell lung cancer found that combining these two treatments reduced local cancer recurrence and improved patients' clinical outcomes.

The study was presented Jan. 24 at the Society of Thoracic Surgeons annual meeting in Tampa, Fla.

"In most cases, early non-small cell lung cancer can be treated successfully with surgery if the cancer has not spread beyond the chest. Unfortunately, some patients with this disease are poor candidates for the ideal surgical intervention, lobectomy, due to poor pulmonary health or other medical issues," principal investigator Dr. Robert Keenan, director of the division of thoracic surgery, said in a prepared statement.

Lobectomy is the most common form of lung cancer surgery. It involves removal of an entire lobe of one lung.

"Though sublobar resection alone is associated with an increased incidence of post-operative disease recurrence, it is still advocated for high-risk patients in the absence of a good alternative. Our study suggests that adding brachytherapy to the regimen can make a dramatic difference in outcomes," Keenan said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about lung cancer.

SOURCE: Society of Thoracic Surgeons, news release, Jan. 24, 2005

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