Queen's University

New lung cancer treatment is saving lives


Chemotherapy given after surgery for lung cancer improves overall survival rates in the general population. This is the first study to evaluate whether the results from a 2004 clinical trial changed practice, and whether the benefits seen in the clinical trial are applicable to the general population.

“It’s reassuring that practice has changed and quite gratifying to see that results reported in highly-selected patients from the clinical trial apply to the general population of lung cancer patients in Ontario,” says lead author Christopher Booth, an assistant professor at the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute and an oncologist at the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario. “We found no increase in rates of hospitalization following adoption of additional chemotherapy, suggesting that treatment is relatively well tolerated.”

Using the Ontario Cancer Registry, researchers looked at all patients diagnosed with non-small-cell lung cancer from 2001 to 2006 who had surgery to remove operable tumours. They then linked electronic records of treatment to the registry and compared survival rates from 2001 to 2003 (before the pivotal clinical trial results) with those from 2004 to 2006.

They found that the proportion of patients receiving additional chemotherapy increased from 7 per cent to 31 per cent, and that this was associated with a substantial improvement in overall survival.

The findings of this population-based outcomes study are published in the latest edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The research was conducted with Bill Mackillop and Paul Peng at Queen’s University and Frances Shepherd and Gail Darling at University of the Toronto.

“The bottom line is, practice has changed and the outcomes in the real world are exactly what the results of the clinical trials would predict,” says Dr. Booth.

The 2004 trial was led by the NCIC Clinical Trials Group at Queen’s University.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality in the Western world and accounts for more deaths than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.

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Last updated at 9:57 am EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
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