Despite having a higher rate of early complications, patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) did better in the long run with conventional surgery than with radiotherapy to remove their cancer, a finding that supports the current practice of treating healthier patients with surgery instead of radiosurgery.
In this study from Yale University using Medicare billing records of 1,078 lung cancer patients aged 67 and older, from across the United States, investigators compared the two procedures with respect to short- and long-term complications.
The investigators were surprised by just how much better surgical patients fared long-term, said study author James B. Yu, MD, an assistant professor of therapeutic radiology at Yale School of Medicine and a member of the Yale Cancer Center. “What was dramatic to me was the relatively high rate of complications and death among surgical patients in the first three months compared with how much better they did than radiosurgery patients after 12 months,” Dr. Yu said. “While surgery may be associated with infections and complications in the short term, it appears that patients healthy enough to undergo surgery live longer.”
Dr. Yu noted, however, that the researchers were unable to account for unknown factors that may have affected outcomes, such as whether patients who underwent surgery had a more accurate assessment of the disease than those who did not, and determining if surgical patients were healthier than radiosurgery patients at the time of the procedure.
The study was supported by a grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science, a section of the National Institutes of Health.
Outlet Full Name: Clinical Oncology
Author: Paul Bufano