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Could Thermal Ablation Rival Stereotactic Radiation Therapy in Early-Stage Lung Cancer?

By: Lauren Harrison, MS
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018

For patients with stage 1 non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), thermal ablation is an effective alternative to stereotactic radiation therapy, according to a retrospective study published in Radiology. Hyun “Kevin” Kim, MD, of the Yale School of Medicine and Yale Cancer Center, and his colleagues determined that the overall survival for patients undergoing thermal ablation was similar to that of patients who received stereotactic radiation therapy. Thermal ablation may offer benefits in terms of patient convenience and cost-effectiveness as well.

“Thermal ablation is most often a one-time treatment, unlike [stereotactic radiation therapy], which requires multiple visits…,” explained Dr. Kim in a press release from the Radiological Society of North America. “In addition, ablation delivers highly accurate and precise localized treatment only to cancer cells, minimizing the effects to surrounding tissue and keeping the toxicity low.”

This study analyzed 28,834 patients with stage 1 NSCLC from the 2004–2013 National Cancer Database. A total of 1,102 of these patients had been treated with thermal ablation, and 27,732 underwent stereotactic radiation therapy.

Patients treated with thermal ablation had more comorbidities than those treated with stereotactic radiation therapy and smaller tumors. After Dr. Kim’s team matched cohorts to balance the potential cofounders, the survival rates for the two treatment methods were comparable. The overall survival for patients undergoing thermal ablation was 85.4% after 1 year and 24.6% after 5 years, compared with 86.3% after 1 year and 26.1% after 5 years with stereotactic radiation therapy.



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