Lung cancer surgery patients live longer with CT follow-up

Patients with recurrent lung cancer live longer after surgery if their management includes CT follow-up, concludes a new Danish study presented on 27 September at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) conference in Amsterdam.

The results showed longer overall survival when their management includes a follow-up program that includes chest CT -- the first finding of improved survival with CT, the researchers said. Previous research has confirmed that most recurrent lung cancers can be detected with CT and resected long before symptoms occur.

"Our results show a significant improvement for survival rates for patients postsurgery in a CT follow-up program currently running in Denmark," noted presenting author Dr. Niels-Christian Hansen from University Hospital in Denmark, in a statement.

The study team evaluated 291 patients who underwent surgery after a lung cancer diagnosis between 2008 and 2013. Following the introduction of a CT-based follow-up program in 2010, all patients began receiving a scan every third month for two years and then once every six months for three more years, the authors wrote.

Another chance for curative resection

According to the results, the number of patients alive four years after surgery rose from 54% to an estimated 68% after implementation of the program. And for patients who had a cancer recurrence within two years after surgery, the probability of being alive four years after the first treatment rose from 2% to about 27%.

The real-life setting using real lung cancer patients was a key strength of the study, Hansen reported.

"This is very encouraging news and we believe that our results could contribute to the planning of similar treatment programs in other centers and countries," he said.

The authors plan to repeat the study with a cohort of lung cancer patients treated with radiotherapy rather than surgery, to assess whether CT is successful in these patients as well.

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