Lung Cancer Survivors Find Reason for Hope

By Nancy Chan, UCSF Today | December 11, 2006

In a room overflowing with people at the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center, David Jablons, MD, professor and chief of thoracic surgery, gave the audience, many of whom are patients under his care, a reason to hope.

"We are making progress -- there are exciting sciences that are being advanced," said Jablons. "With early detection, lung cancer is curable. We canit accept the status quo that only 15 percent survive five years and only 5 percent survive 10 years."

Jablons cited a landmark study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Claudia Henschke, MD, PhD, and David Yankelevitz, MD, the founders and principal investigators of the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program. Results from the 13-year study on screening for lung cancer demonstrated that if lung cancer is detected and treated early, 88 percent of patients could expect to live 10 years or more.

"We have the technologies, and the words 'lung cancer' and 'cured' do go together in a sentence," he said.

Joyce Neifert, co-chair of Lung Cancer Alliance -- California, followed up Jablons' remarks by seconding, "With screening, we finally have something to talk about."

For Thierry Jahan, MD, associate clinical professor of medicine, treating lung cancer patients is no longer palliative care. "We're in an era where treating patients with lung cancer is beneficial for their survival and their quality of life," he said. "We're getting closer to the days when we are not using the harsh drugs. We have drugs today that are now effective and not toxic."

(Note that in November 2007 the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center was renamed the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.)

Read more at Nancy Chan, UCSF Today