New Treatment Now Available for Lung Cancer Patients

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by: Lucy Richardson, MD Anderson Staff Writer

Treatment for lung cancer depends on the type of tumor and stage at the time of diagnosis. When lung cancer is diagnosed at its earliest stage, about 65% to 70% of patients can be treated with surgery alone. Patients who cannot have surgery may now benefit from a new radiation therapy technology called stereotactic radiation therapy or STARS.

This treatment uses special equipment, where radiation can be given at a very high dose specifically to the tumor, so normal tissue is not harmed. Treatment can typically be given in three or four days instead of the five or six weeks required with traditional radiation.

Several studies have reported local control and survival similar to that achieved by surgery using stereotactic radiation therapy. As a result, this treatment is now being considered as an alternative to surgery for patients who meet the criteria. However, before stereotactic radiation therapy can be considered as an alternative to surgery, a clinical trial must be completed.

STARS clinical trials
When a new treatment is developed, it must go through a series of clinical trials to see if it is safe and effective. The purpose of this study is to compare stereotactic radiation therapy, given in this trial with the Cyberknife®, to surgery alone for stage I operable lung cancer.

"I encourage my patients to participate in clinical trials because it provides the opportunity for them to receive the newest treatments which they otherwise could not receive as well as help other patients in the future," says Jack A. Roth, M.D., F.A.C.S.

The STARS clinical trial is being conducted at sites around the world. Access for more information and a list of participating cancer centers.

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