By Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Oct. 26, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- In a finding that offers some hope to those fighting lung cancer, researchers report that survival rates have improved among those with early stage disease.
"More and more patients are being cured of lung cancer, with both surgery and radiation as good treatment options," said study author Dr. Nirav Kapadia, from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire.
"Our study optimistically suggests that if current trends persist, survival for [non-small-cell lung cancer] will continue to improve over time," he said.
The study included more than 65,000 people diagnosed with stage 1 non-small-cell lung cancer between 2000 and 2010. Of that group, 62 percent had surgery, 15 percent received radiation therapy, 3 percent had both surgery and radiation and 18 percent received neither treatment.
The two-year survival rate for people treated with either surgery or radiation therapy rose from 61 percent in 2000 to 70 percent in 2009 -- corresponding to a 3.5 percent annual decrease in death from lung cancer.
The study was published online Oct. 26 said in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.
Kapadia noted that while the proportion of patients who did not receive treatment fell from about 20 percent in 2000 to just under 16 percent in 2010, too many still do not receive treatment for "an otherwise highly curable disease."
"We were disappointed to see only a modest reduction in the number of untreated patients, which remained unacceptably high," Kapadia said in a journal news release. "Our hope is that future clinical, research and policy efforts focus on reducing that number as close to zero as possible."
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in the United States, with more people dying from lung cancer than from colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. Non-small-cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 80 to 85 percent of all lung cancer cases, according to the American Cancer Society.
The society estimates that more than 222,500 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year, and more than 155,000 lung cancer patients will die.