UT SouthWestern Medical CenterLung cancer is said to be a disease of unrestrained cell development in tissues of the lung. Preliminary discoveries seem to propose a radiation therapy that includes many highly-focused and powerful radiation beams offers targeted tumor control in almost all patients, decreases treatment-related illness, and may eventually enhance survival for patients with terminal non-small cell lung cancer. At least this is what a study claims.

Patients suffering from inoperable early stage lung cancer are believed to be usually provided with traditional radiation treatment or observed without particular cancer therapy.

The authors commented, “Outcomes are not ideal with either approach. Conventional radiotherapy fails to durably control the primary lung tumor in 60 percent to 70 percent of patients. More than half of patients ultimately die specifically from progressive lung cancer with observation, and 2-year survival is less than 40 percent with either approach.”

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is claimed to be a noninvasive cancer treatment in which several minute, highly focused, and precise radiation beams are apparently utilized to supply strong doses in 1 to 5 treatments to tumor targets.

Robert Timmerman, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas and colleagues performed the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) 0236 trial, alleged to be the first North American multicenter, cooperative group study to check SBRT in treating medically terminal patients with early stage non-small cell lung cancer.

The Phase 2 study comprised of patients who were 18 years or more with biopsy-proven peripheral T1-T2N0M0 non-small cell tumors, measuring below 5 cm. in diameter and medical conditions that may not enable surgical treatment. Radiation treatment apparently lasted for around 1.5 and 2 weeks. The study began from May 2004 and ended October 2006, with data examined through August 2009. The concluding study population involved about 55 patients, around 44 were with T1 tumors and 11 patients had T2 tumors, with a median follow-up of approximately 34.4 months.

The main result gauged for the study was said to be the 2-year actuarial primary tumor control; secondary end points were disease-free survival, treatment-related toxicity and by and large survival.

Out of all the patients in the study, only one underwent a known tumor recurrence or development at the primary site. The 3-year primary tumor control rate was believed to be around 97.6 percent. Around 3 patients had a relapse in the involved lobe. The 3-year primary tumor and involved lobe control rate was said to be roughly 90.6 percent. Merging local and regional failures, the 3-year local-regional control rate was supposedly around 87.2 percent. Dispersed recurrence as some component of recurrence was accounted in roughly 11 patients. The 3-year rate of disseminated failure was apparently 22.1 percent with 8 such failures taking place before 24 months.

It was seen that disease-free survival and by and large survival at 3 years were roughly 48.3 percent and around 55.8 percent, correspondingly. Median disease-free survival and general survival for every patient was said to be 34.4 months and 48.1 months, respectively. Around 7 patients and 2 patients were accounted to experience protocol-specified treatment-related grade 3 and 4 unfavorable events, respectively. Apparently, no grade 5 treatment-related unfavorable events were accounted. Elevated grades seem to signify bigger acuteness adverse event, with grade 5 representing death.

The authors remarked, “The main finding in this prospective study was the high rate of primary tumor control (97.6 percent at 3 years). Primary tumor control is an essential requirement for the cure of lung cancer. Stereotactic body radiation therapy as delivered in RTOG 0236 provided more than double the rate of primary tumor control than previous reports describing conventional radiotherapy.”

The authors mentioned, “The RTOG 0236 trial demonstrated that technologically intensive treatments like SBRT can be performed in a cooperative group so long as the proper infrastructure and support are put in place. The RTOG will be building on RTOG 0236 to (l) design a trial to address the rather high rate of disseminated failure observed after treatment, (2) complete a trial to determine a safe and effective dose for central lung tumors and (3) complete a trial to refine the dose of SBRT for peripheral tumors.”

So this study may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for lung cancer patients.

Thus study was presented at a JAMA media briefing.