Many Lung Cancer Patients Aren't Getting Best Treatment: Study

From - January 10, 2018

Many Lung Cancer Patients Are not Getting Best Treatment: Study

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 10, 2018 -- Chemotherapy and radiation are the standard of care for small-cell lung cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body. But many patients do not receive these treatments, a new study indicates.

This less-than-optimal care is reducing survival rates, according to researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

"In order to improve access to care and address related disparities, it is critical to understand the barriers patients face when getting treated for lung cancer," said the study's senior author, Dr. Stephen Chun. He's an assistant professor of radiation oncology.

Small-cell lung cancer is a fast-growing malignancy that accounts for up to 15 percent of lung cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.

Hoping to shed light on those treatment barriers, the researchers analyzed information in a national cancer database on more than 70,200 patients with small-cell lung cancer. They focused on the social and economic obstacles the patients faced when seeking treatment. They also evaluated their survival rates.

Of these patients, about 56 percent received chemotherapy and radiation as their initial therapy. About 20 percent received only chemo, and 3.5 percent just got radiation. Another 20 percent received neither treatment, the study found.

Half the patients who received chemotherapy and radiation survived more than 18 months. Receiving just chemotherapy reduced median survival to almost 11 months, and radiation alone carried a median survival of a little more than 8 months.

Not receiving either form of treatment resulted in worse outcomes.

"Among the group of patients who received neither chemotherapy nor radiation, prognosis was dismal with a median survival of only 3-4 months," Chun said in a cancer center news release.

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