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Lung cancer blog: Do you really have to remove your lung to cure lung cancer?

Lung cancer blog Lung cancer main Non small cell  

Aug 29, 2005

Do you really have to remove your lung to cure lung cancer?

Do you really have to remove your lung to cure lung cancer? We don't know yet, but that's the question that doctors at Indiana University School of Medicine are trying to answer. Dr. Ronald C. McGarry, professor of radiation oncology wants to change the conventional wisdom that surgery is the best choice for treatment of early-stage lung cancer. The current practice is to remove the whole lung or part of the lung in early stage lung cancer in an attempt to cure this disease if found early.

McGarry is conducting two clinical trials designed to determine whether super-high doses of precisely targeted radiation - both with and without chemotherapy - can eradicate early-stage lung tumors.

The two trials of nonsurgical lung cancer treatment are open to patients from Michiana, McGarry says. "I call this a lung-sparing approach to cancer treatment".

In these trials, patients will be given very high doses of radiation that are precisely targeted to the tumor. The doses are so high that the course is completed in just three treatments given over seven to 10 days.

Currently radiation oncologists use the same dose of radiation to treat lung cancer patients spread over a longer period of time. "The difference is that we give huge doses of radiation in a short time,'' he said. Despite large doses of radiation, side effects are expected to be low because of the precise targeting of radiation thus avoiding undue exposure of the radiation to normal tissues.

Both of these trials are for lung cancer patients who have other health problems, such as heart failure, that make them poor candidates for surgery.

In the second trial, sponsored by Eli Lilly and Co., patients receive high-dose radiation followed by two cycles of chemotherapy. The chemotherapy uses a new drug believed to be less toxic than established cancer drugs.

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We engage a never-ending daily struggle to understand and defeat the hidden mysteries of cancer. This is a long and laborious fight, but some moments stand out as grim reminders of the severity of the problem and ruthlessness of the enemy.

Lung cancer blog: Do you really have to remove your lung to cure lung cancer?

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