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Lynne Eldridge MD

Stage 3 Lung Cancer Survival Best With Radiation and Chemo Combined

By April 10, 2009

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As I hear of progress with many other forms of cancer, I get discouraged sharing the statistics about lung cancer. Survival rates, especially with advanced lung cancer (stage 3B and stage 4), have not changed that much in recent years. But a new study gave me a sense of optimism, just as I watch the last snowdrifts melt.


Researchers took a look at the customary treatments for those with inoperable stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer - chemotherapy and radiation - and evaluated how they work together.

With regards to average survival, using chemotherapy in addition to radiation therapy clearly made a difference, and was best if both of these treatments were given at the same.

Most dramatic, however, was the difference in 5-year survival rates. Adding chemotherapy to radiation therapy doubled the number of lung cancer patients alive after 5 years, and doubled that number again if chemotherapy and radiation therapy were given at the same time rather than sequentially (which is medical lingo for the two treatments being given at separate times).

So what does this mean for you? As I wrote last week, studies suggest that asking questions, and discussing new treatments with your doctor may make a difference in the options that are chosen. But my mind raised another thought. Combining these treatments together is likely to cause more side-effects, and many side-effects can be minimized (or at least reduced) by simple things each of us can do on our own. Check to see if any of these tips can help make life a bit more comfortable during your treatment.

Coping With Side Effects From Radiation Therapy:

Coping With Side Effects From Chemotherapy:

More About Stage 3 Lung Cancer


Wang, L. et al. The Effect of Radiation Dose and Chemotherapy on Overall Survival in 237 Patients With Stage III Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer. International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics. 2009. 73(5):1383-90.

November 11, 2009 at 7:43 am
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My mom has stage 3b lung cancer. We are worried that radiation might get her worse than b4. Pls enlighten us

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