(HealthDay News) — Stage IV nonsmall-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients in the United States often receive more radiation therapy than recommended, according to a study published online September 30 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Matthew Koshy, MD, a radiation oncologist at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data from 46,803 stage IV NSCLC patients who received palliative chest radiation therapy between 2004–2012. One in five also received chemotherapy at the same time, even though guidelines recommend against such dual treatment, the researchers said. The researchers also found that nearly one-third of the patients (28%) received more than 25 radiation treatments, which is 10 more than the recommended maximum number.

Privately insured patients were 40% more likely than other patients to receive more than the recommended 15 radiation treatments. Overtreatment with radiation was also higher among patients treated in community cancer centers with no links to academic institutions.

“More education is needed for radiation oncologists, to prevent overtreatment – which has not been proven to further improve symptoms or quality of life, and can have some significant side effects,” Koshy said in a university news release.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)