A clinical trial that combined stereotactic body radiation therapy with a specific chemotherapy regimen more than doubled survival rates for certain stage 4 lung cancer patients, UT Southwestern Medical Center cancer researchers report.
The combination of the chemotherapy regimen, erlotinib, with stereotactic body radiation therapy, known as SBRT, improved overall survival time to 20 months compared to historic 6- to 9- month survival times among erlotinib-only treated patients. The combination improved progression free survival - the time without the reappearance of cancer − from the historical two to four months to 14.7 months for similarly selected lung cancer patients.
"Our approach dramatically changed the pattern of relapse. We saw a shift in failure from existing, local sites to new, distant sites," said senior author Dr. Robert Timmerman, Director of the Annette Simmons Stereotactic Treatment Center, and Vice Chairman of Radiation Oncology at UT Southwestern. "This shift resulted in a surprisingly long remission from the reappearance of cancer in treated patients."