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June 26, 1981

Increments in progress against cancer

JAMA. 1981;245(24):2484-2485. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310490006003

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Lung cancer remains the most lethal cancer for men, is fast becoming that for women, and is expected to account for about 100,000 deaths this year.

Small cell carcinoma of the lung, which accounts for some 25% of all lung cancers, is no longer considered surgically treatable and now is being treated primarily with chemotherapy. When the carcinoma is limited in extent, survivals of better than one year are frequently achieved, and a small percentage of patients are disease-free survivors at two years and longer.

Stages I and II of non-small-cell lung cancer, chiefly adenocarcinoma and epidermoid carcinoma, are treatable by surgery, which may be curative. Three-year disease-free survival rates have been reported in about 70% of stage I patients and in 20% to 30% of stage II patients.

Now, in another of the small increments that presently characterize progress against cancer, patients having stage III non-small-cell lung cancer are