Skip to content

Lung Cancer Health Center

Lung Cancer: Cutting-Edge Treatments

Learn about some of the latest therapies developed to treat lung cancer -- and raise survival rates.
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Feature

Recent advances in diagnostics and therapy are raising survival rates of those diagnosed with lung cancer, with more exciting developments on the horizon.

One such recent advance involves giving chemotherapy after the surgical removal of a tumor.

Recommended Related to Lung Cancer

Recurrent Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment

Standard Treatment Options for Patients With Recurrent Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) Standard treatment options for patients with recurrent SCLC include the following: Chemotherapy. Palliative therapy. At the time of recurrence, many SCLC patients are potential candidates for further therapy. Chemotherapy Although second-line chemotherapy has been shown to produce tumor regression, responses are usually short lived; the median survival is rarely more than 12 months...

Read the Recurrent Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment article > >

"Two years ago, we didn't recommend the therapy because we had just preliminary data that it might be helpful, but not enough information to make it a generally accepted recommendation," says James Rigas, MD, director of the Comprehensive Thoracic Oncology Program at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Lebanon, N.H.

But in 2004 two studies showed big improvements in survival for patients who got chemotherapy over those who didn't. Here were the conclusive data that doctors had been hoping for.

How good was the news? One study by the National Cancer Institute of Canada showed that, of those who received a two-drug chemo combination, 15% more lived five years or more after their surgery, while a U.S. study showed a 12% increase in survival rates.

The chemotherapy drugs used in these studies are not new, yet with these study results doctors now have better knowledge of how to work with what's available, meaning many people may live longer without a relapse or spread of their cancer.

"I think we're going to be seeing a lot more trials to try to improve upon the fact that we know treatment helps," Rigas tells WebMD.

Targeted Treatment for Lung Cancer

Nearly 60% of all people with lung cancer die within a year of their diagnosis and an estimated 164,000 Americans -- most of them smokers or ex-smokers -- are diagnosed each year.

Fortunately, an important development in treating advanced lung cancer was announced last year.

In a large study, people taking a drug called Avastin, together with chemotherapy, lived an average of two months longer than those taking chemo alone -- a big improvement for people with a disease that can kill so quickly.

Avastin is a "targeted" treatment, meaning it more specifically targets cancer cells over normal cells. It works by disrupting the cancer cells' ability to form new blood vessels, which a tumor needs to grow.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Broken cigarette
Do you know the myths from the facts?
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
 
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
FEATURE
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
SLIDESHOW
 
cancer fighting foods
SLIDESHOW
Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
VIDEO
 
Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
VIDEO
Pets Improve Your Health
SLIDESHOW
 
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW
Lung Cancer Surgery Options
VIDEO
 

WebMD Special Sections