Resolving a longstanding controversy in oncology, a study co-authored by David Gandara, associate director for clinical research at UC Davis Cancer Center, shows that administering chemotherapy after surgery improves survival for patients with early stage, resectable non-small cell lung cancer. The study appeared in the June 23, 2005 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. The principal investigator was Timothy Winton of the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group.
In the study, 482 patients with completely resected non-small cell lung cancer tumors were randomly assigned to observation or chemotherapy. The five-year, recurrence-free survival rate was 61 percent in the chemotherapy group, and 49 percent in the observation group. Cancer recurred in 87 patients in the chemotherapy group versus 119 in the observation group.
"We believe that a brief course of chemotherapy should become the standard of care after complete resection of Stage IB or Stage II nonsmall cell lung cancer," the authors concluded. An accompanying editorial in the journal agreed, stating: "The controversy surrounding adjuvant chemotherapy for resectable non-small lung cancer is over."
Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common form of lung cancer, accounting for 80 to 85 percent of all lung cancer cases.