HealthDay News — Older lung cancer patients are surviving longer when they have lung cancer surgery, according to a study published online May 5 in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

“This greater than expected survival in older patients selected for operative therapy is noteworthy, especially considering that the prevalence of lung cancer is expected to increase as the population continues to grow older and more people survive into old age,” study author Felix Fernandez, MD, from Emory Clinic in Atlanta, said in a journal news release. The median age of U.S. lung cancer patients at the time of diagnosis is 70, according to the American Cancer Society. About 17% of all patients diagnosed with lung cancer live for at least 5 years, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

In the study, researchers examined data from tens of thousands of patients aged 65 and older who had lung cancer surgery in the United States between 2002 and 2012. Median survival after surgery for early stage lung cancer was 6.7 years — nearly 2 years longer than the benchmark 5-year survival rate. The analysis also showed that five-year survival rates for certain older patients with advanced lung cancer who had surgery were 30% for stage III cancer and 27% for stage IV cancer.

The findings offer more information about survival after surgery, “which is important to patients. This information can be included in the shared decision-making process when discussing treatment options with patients,” Fernandez said.

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