NEW HAVEN, Conn., Jan. 5 (UPI) -- A Yale University study has found that people with a common form of lung cancer can benefit from chemotherapy started up to four months after surgery.
Lung cancer has a higher mortality rate than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined, according to researchers.
For people with non-small-cell lung cancer, or NSCLC, chemotherapy after cancer surgery is beneficial in patients with larger tumors or with cancer in the lymph nodes.
While the benefit of chemotherapy after surgery has been established, doctors have not come to a consensus on the timing of chemotherapy.
Several clinicians agree starting chemotherapy within six to nine weeks after surgery is optimal, but factors such as postoperative complications may affect a patient's ability to tolerate chemotherapy.
The study included 12,473 patients with stage I, II, or III lung cancer who received chemotherapy between 57 and 127 days after surgery. The research found that patients had similar outcomes as patients who received chemotherapy six to nine weeks after surgery.
The results also showed that delayed chemotherapy correlated with a lower risk of death compared to those patients who were treated with surgery only.
"Clinicians should still consider chemotherapy in appropriately selected patients who are healthy enough to tolerate it, up to four months after NSCLC surgical resection," Dr. Daniel J. Boffa, co-author of the study, a member of Yale Cancer Center and clinical program program leader of the Thoracic Oncology Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital, said in a press release. "Further study is warranted to confirm these findings."
The study was published in JAMA Oncology.