A number of patients with advanced lung cancer may live longer if treated surgically but few elect to do it, according to a study.
A study of US patients with late-stage non-small cell lung cancer found only 11 percent underwent surgery — and 27% got no treatment at all. Yet surgery, either alone or with other treatments, prolonged survival by as much as 41 months, researchers said.
“We were surprised by the findings, but they have to be considered with caution,” said study lead author Dr Elizabeth David, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of California, Davis Medical Center, in Sacramento.
“Surgery is not appropriate for every patient with stage 3 or 4 lung cancer,” she noted. “We just need to make sure that appropriate patients are evaluated by surgeons, and we are working on ways to make that easier.”
At stages 3 and 4, the cancer has spread, which reduces the odds for a cure, experts say.
Dr Norman Edelman, senior medical advisor for the American Lung Association, said it’s not clear from the study that a more aggressive approach to surgery would in fact lead to longer survivals.