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ASCO 2013: Deciding When to Operate in Lung Cancer

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The Particulars: In patients with lung cancer, studies suggest that comorbidities appear to frequently impact treatment decisions due to a fear of causing harm without achieving benefit. The impact of these decisions has not been well defined in the literature.

Data Breakdown: For a study, investigators compared mortality and physical functioning between lung cancer patients with more than two comorbidities who underwent surgery and those who did not. The 1-year mortality rate was 10.8% in the surgical group, compared with a 22.8% rate for the non-surgical group. Despite two or more comorbidities, a 12.0% absolute mortality reduction was observed with surgery. No decline in physical functioning was seen with surgery when compared with no surgery.

Take Home Pearl: Study investigators recommend that treatment decisions for patients with early lung cancer and several comorbidities be based on survival benefit as opposed to perceived concerns for decline in physical functioning.

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