From the July 1, 2002 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology
More than half of lung cancer patients learn they have the disease after it has spread outside the lung. In some cases, people with lung cancer experience either no symptoms or nonspecific symptoms (e.g., cough, fatigue, or weight loss), and their cancer is not discovered until their doctor uses an x-ray or CT scan for some other reason.
In the last several years, new treatments have become available for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. These treatments include the drugs paclitaxel and carboplatin. Years ago, patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer either received treatment with care only intended to address their symptoms, or with chemotherapy treatments including cisplatin. For instance, patients received appetite stimulants to improve their desire for food or medication to control pain.
Recently, a number of new chemotherapy treatments have been proven to improve survival at one year for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. However, limited information has been available regarding the longer-term follow-up of patients treated with these newer treatments.
In a recent study, Drs. John Hainsworth and F. Anthony Greco provide results after an average follow-up of 58 months in 321 patients treated in studies performed in The Minnie Pearl Cancer Research Network. These long-term results provide evidence that show survival is improved from this treatment at follow-up of two, three, and fours years.
According to the study, which tracked non-small cell lung cancer patients for five years, some patients who received these newer treatments are living longer as compared to patients who receive treatment with supportive care or older cisplatin-based chemotherapy treatments.
Because paclitaxel and carboplatin are often part of either a two-or three-drug treatments, the study also examined how side effects differ between treatments. The study found that three-drug treatments caused more serious side effects, and required more patients to enter the hospital for fever and low white blood cell counts, without providing added benefit.