Post-operative radiation therapy (PORT) for people suffering from lung cancer might not work to prolong life among elder sufferers as previously thought. A recent study from researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine looked to see if PORT treatment, a controversial but commonly used procedure, worked to help keep sufferers alive for longer after undergoing tumor-removal surgery.
To test this, researchers looked at 1,307 cases of people with stage III NSCLC with N2 lymph node involvement using the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare registry. This survey links cancer incidence and survival data through Medicare records.
From the collected data, scientists found that 710 or 54 percent of the people age 66 and older in the study were given PORT treatments after undergoing tumor-removal surgery. The one-and-three-year survival rates of these patients did not improve or get better in comparison to the patients who didn't receive PORT. This led authors to believe that PORT use might not be beneficial to people with lung cancer, though more research needs to be conducted to find this out for sure.
"While some analyses have shown improvement with PORT, the data are not strong enough to support using it as a standard of care in older adults with this type of lung cancer," said Juan Wisnivesky, lead author. "Our results show that we need more information about the potential benefits of radiation therapy before it is used routinely to treat these patients, especially considering the side effects associated with it."
The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that lung cancer is most common in older adults and that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of the disease. Exposure to asbestos, high levels of air pollution or a family history of lung cancer might also increase a person's chances of getting the form of cancer.
Those with elder care duties to a loved one with lung cancer might want to discuss different treatments or methods for dealing with the problem down the line.