© 2005-2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). All rights reserved worldwide.
June 5, 2004
A new study shows that giving chemotherapy after surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy) results in a significant survival advantage in people with stage IB non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Stage IB NSCLC describes a small to medium-sized tumor that has not spread to the lymph nodes. This type of lung cancer is currently treated with surgery. The purpose of this study was to learn whether chemotherapy after surgery helped people with stage IB NSCLC live longer, because the results of previous studies have been conflicting.
In this study, researchers randomly assigned 344 patients with stage IB NSCLC to receive paclitaxel (Taxol) and carboplatin (Paraplatin) after surgery or surgery alone. After four years, 71% of the patients who received chemotherapy were living, compared with 51% of the patients who only had the surgery. This means that adjuvant chemotherapy lowered the risk of death by 38%. In fact, the results were so clear that the trial was stopped early so that all patients could receive adjuvant chemotherapy.
"These figures will hopefully translate into an improvement in the cure rate in early stage lung cancer," said lead investigator Gary Strauss, MD, MPH, of Rhode Island Hospital and Brown Medical School in Providence. He hopes that these results are convincing enough to change how patients with high-risk, early stage lung cancer are treated.
What This Means For Patients
This study shows that adjuvant chemotherapy (chemotherapy after surgery) improves survival in a specific group of people with early stage NSCLC. More research is needed to know whether adjuvant chemotherapy could help people with operable, stage II cancers.