FROM THE JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY
Adjuvant cisplatin-based chemotherapy is recommended for routine use in non–small cell lung cancer patients with stage IIA, IIB, or IIIA disease who have undergone complete surgical resections, according to updated guidelines from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
In patients with stage IA disease, the guidelines recommend against cisplatin-based chemotherapy. The new guidelines are based on a systematic review current to January 2016 and an American Society for Radiation Oncology guideline and systematic review, which ASCO had already endorsed, which formed the basis for recommendations on adjuvant radiation therapy, Mark G. Kris, MD, and panel authors said (J Clin Oncol. 2017 April 26. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2017.72.4401 ).
The guidelines, available online , also recommend against routine cisplatin-based chemotherapy in patients with stage IB disease, but they suggest an evaluation of these patients to explore the pros and cons of adjuvant chemotherapy.
With respect to radiation, the authors recommend against it for patients with resected stage I or stage II disease, and they recommend against it for routine use in patients with stage IIIA. However, in patients with IIIA N2 disease, patients should be evaluated postoperatively, in consultation with a medical oncologist, for the potential risks and benefits of adjuvant radiation.
The authors also provide some recommendations for communicating with patients regarding treatment decisions. There are few studies examining this question, so the recommendations are based on low-quality evidence.
Non–small cell lung cancer patients may have complex social, psychological, and medical issues, and discussions should be carried out with this in mind. Pain, impaired breathing, and fatigue are common after surgery, and smoking cessation can lead to short-term stress as a result of nicotine withdrawal. Older patients may have a range of comorbidities.
Studies show that patients are most satisfied if they feel that physicians allow them to share in the decision making, and if they are given sufficient time to choose. To that end, the authors recommend a session dedicated to discussion of adjuvant therapy.
Communicating risk of death is challenging for many reasons. Patients should be asked how they would like to hear about their risks: some prefer general terms, while others may opt for numbers, charts, or graphs. The guidelines include a risk chart that can help patients understand the potential benefits and risks of chemotherapy.
The study authors report financial relationships with numerous pharmaceutical companies.