A combination of two surgical procedures A improves outcomes for high-risk lung cancer patients, says a new study by researchers at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

The Procedures

In intraoperative brachytherapy, tiny pellets that contain radioactive medication are inserted into the part of the lung from which a tumor has been surgically removed.

Sublobar resection is a procedure in which only a small part of the lung is removed. ln lobectomy, the most common lung cancer surgery, an entire lobe of a lung is removed.

"In most cases, early non-small cell lung cancer can be treated successfully with surgery if the cancer has not spread beyond the chest. Unfortunately, some patients with this disease are poor candidates for the ideal surgical intervention, lobectomy, due to poor pulmonary health or other medical issues," explains principal investigator, Dr. Robert Keenan, director of the division of thoracic surgery at Allegheny Hospital

The Study

This study of 167 patients who had stage 1b non-small cell lung cancer found that combining intraoperative brachytherapy and sublobar surgical resection reduced local cancer recurrence and improved patients' clinical outcomes.

Though sublobar resection alone is associated with an increased incidence of postoperative disease recurrence, it is still advocated for high-risk patients in the absence of a good alternative. Our study suggests that adding brachytherapy to the regimen can make a dramatic difference in outcomes," Keenan says.

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