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Open Access Highly Accessed Debate

Improving lung cancer survival; time to move on

Marlies E Heuvers1*, Joost P Hegmans1, Bruno H Stricker234 and Joachim G Aerts15

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Respiratory Diseases and Tuberculosis, Erasmus Medical University Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2 Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus Medical University Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

3 Department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus Medical University Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

4 Department of Medical Informatics, Erasmus Medical University Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

5 Department of Respiratory Diseases and Tuberculosis, Amphia Hospital, Breda, The Netherlands

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BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2012, 12:77  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-12-77

Published: 13 December 2012

Abstract

Background

During the past decades, numerous efforts have been made to decrease the death rate among lung cancer patients. Nonetheless, the improvement in long-term survival has been limited and lung cancer is still a devastating disease.

Discussion

With this article we would like to point out that survival of lung cancer could be strongly improved by controlling two pivotal prognostic factors: stage and treatment. This is corresponding with recent reports that show a decrease in lung cancer mortality by screening programs. In addition, modulation of the patient’s immune system by immunotherapy either as monotherapy or combined with conventional cancer treatments offers the prospect of tailoring treatments much more precisely and has also been shown to lead to a better response to treatment and overall survival of non-small cell lung cancer patients.

Summary

Since only small improvements in survival can be expected in advanced disease with the use of conventional therapies, more research should be focused on lung cancer screening programs and patient tailored immunotherapy with or without conventional therapies. If these approaches are clinically combined in a standard multidisciplinary policy we might be able to advance the survival of patients with lung cancer.

Keywords:
Lung cancer; Survival; Lung cancer screening; Immunotherapy