Non-surgical lung cancer treatment extends life expectancy

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Using thermal ablation treatment, 57 percent of lung cancer patients evaluated in recent research survived three years — two years beyond average life expectancy in most cases. The research was published in the July issue of the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology (JVIR). The patients had early-stage, I-II, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). During thermal ablation, an interventional radiologist uses imaging to guide a small needle through the skin into the tumor. Energy is then transmitted to the tip of the needle to kill the cancer with heat or cold, according to a release. 

"Only one-third of patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer are eligible for surgery — the rest face the reality of having less than 12 months to live," wrote study author Damian Dupuy, MD, of Rhode Island Hospital.  "These new outpatient treatments not only are effective, but allow us to treat patients who historically have no other options.  Utilizing imaging and targeted thermal ablation, we can heat and destroy lung tumors, and extend a patient's life.  As a physician, it's so gratifying to be able to provide a treatment that is so beneficial to patients and so easy for them to undergo."

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical outcomes of patients with early-stage NSCLC after combined treatment with thermal ablation and radiotherapy, and it showed that the combination therapy may result in an improved survival over either modality alone.   

The patients in the study were terminal, with a life expectancy of less than one year, and were not surgical candidates. Twenty-seven of the patients who underwent thermal ablation later received external-beam radiation. Fourteen patients underwent thermal ablation followed by interstitial brachytherapy. Of the 41 patients, 97.6 percent survived to six months, 86.8 percent to one year, 70.4 percent to two years and 57.1 percent to three years, according to a release of the results.