Radiotherapy in elderly lung cancer patients is rather useless

The benefits of radiotherapy in the elderly are too small
Lung cancer is unfortunately a very widespread cancer today. The disease is usually diagnosed very late. When the cancer has spread to the brain, so-called radiation therapy is often carried out. However, researchers have now discovered that this potentially harmful form of treatment should be spared. Radiation therapy shows hardly any positive effects on the life expectancy or quality of life of those suffering from this type of cancer.

The University of Queensland scientists found in an investigation that older patients with lung cancer do not experience effective improvements in the disease through radiation therapy. This could save many sufferers from this form of treatment. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "The Lancet".

Many people suffer from lung cancer without even knowing it
Lung cancer is a terrible disease. About every third cancer in Germany affects lung cancer. Unfortunately, the disease is usually diagnosed too late and the result is often the death of those affected. Another study found that over one million people in the UK alone have lung cancer without knowing it. In elderly patients with lung cancer, radiation therapy (WBRT) is often used to treat cancer that has already spread to the brain of the patient.

What is NSCLC?
A so-called non-small cell bronchial carcinoma is also called NSCLC. This is a bronchial carcinoma which, when viewed microscopically, consists of larger cells. Tumor removal surgery is primarily used for treatment. Other treatment options are chemotherapy and radiation therapy (WBRT).

Radiotherapy has hardly any advantages but has many side effects
WBRT radiation therapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) does not affect the lifespan or quality of life of people over 60 years old, the doctors say. However, WBRT is still used for so-called tumor control. The WBRT treatment has significant side effects such as fatigue, hair loss and nausea, the authors explain. The toxicity can also damage the cognitive functions of the memory.

Side effects of radiation therapy
Patients who received WBRT treatment lived only about five days longer than patients whose symptoms were treated with care and steroids, the experts say. The differences were very small and patients on WBRT treatment had to experience serious undesirable side effects. This form of treatment led to, for example, drowsiness, hair loss, nausea and an itchy, dry scalp.

Study examines more than 500 patients with advanced lung cancer
The clinical study examined more than 500 subjects. The participants had an average age of 66 and came from Australia and the United Kingdom. All subjects had advanced lung cancer

Life expectancy in non-small cell lung cancer is very poor
An estimated 12,200 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed this year in Australia alone. And almost a third of all non-small cell cancers will eventually spread to the brain, the authors speculate. The prognosis for affected patients is very poor and unfortunately, life expectancy has hardly improved since the 1980s, the doctors add. Many women die of lung cancer. Overall, there are more female deaths from lung cancer than from breast cancer.

Smoking, white bread and cornflakes increase the risk of lung cancer
There are many reasons for developing lung cancer. Of course, it is known that smoking leads to a significantly higher risk. But the lung cancer risk is still very high for ex-smokers for a long time. Less well known is that white bread, cornflakes and puffed rice also significantly increase the risk of lung cancer.

What are the first signs of lung cancer?
Bronchial carcinoma (lung cancer) manifests itself very differently. The growing tumor causes symptoms in the lungs in particular. However, other health problems in the body can also be triggered by the disease, the experts say. The first sign of lung cancer is usually a cough. Of course, this can also result from other diseases, such as a normal cold. There is also a reduction in performance among those affected. Sick people often feel dull and often also have a fever, the doctors explain. It is very important to quickly discover lung cancer. For this reason, experts are developing a new blood test that can detect lung cancer in good time.

What happens when the tumor grows out of the lungs?
If the tumor continues to grow in our lungs, additional symptoms develop, the scientists say. These include lengthy coughing attacks, for example. These last for up to three weeks and cannot be treated with medication. Pneumonia, which also does not respond to the usual treatments, could be another indication of lung cancer, the doctors explain. One of the most common signs of lung cancer is hemoptysis. These indicate blood admixtures in the sputum. Some lung cancer tumors grow out of our lungs. This can cause pain in the space between the ribs and back pain.

Those affected should seek precise advice
Patients with NSCLC should discuss all treatment options with their oncologist. The potential side effects and potential benefits of all treatments should be explained in detail by an expert, the authors advise. (as)

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Video: Radiation Is Essential in Lung Cancer Treatment (January 2022).