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by Brendon Nafziger , DOTmed News Associate Editor
Varian Medical Systems said last week it's contributing funds to help with patient accrual efforts for a National Cancer Institute-sponsored, multi-center study comparing radiosurgery against the knife-based kind for high-risk patients with early-stage lung cancer.

A Varian spokeswoman told DOTmed News the Sunnyvale, Calif-based company will kick in some funds and provide other help to support the study's goal of accruing 420 patients over a five-year period. As of June, 45 centers had qualified to participate in the phase III trial, the company said.

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The NCI-financed project is being run by the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, a one-year-old collaboration among three cancer research organizations: the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group, Cancer and Leukemia Group B and North Central Cancer Treatment Group.

Formally known as ACOSOG Z4099/RTOG 1021, the study seeks to compare whole-body stereotactic radiosurgery, which uses higher doses of radiation in fewer fractions, against sublobar resection, the surgical removal of part of the lobe of the lung, for high-risk patients with non-small cell lung cancer whose cancer is operable.

"To date, there have not been any prospective, randomized trials to compare the efficacy and toxicity of surgery to radiosurgery for high-risk operable early-stage lung cancer patients," Kolleen Kennedy, president of Varian's oncology systems business, said in a statement. "We anticipate that this trial could yield very useful information for making treatment decisions about these types of cases."

According to a "talking points" document hosted on ACOSOG's website, an earlier study involving radiosurgery performed on patients with medically inoperable early-stage lung cancer achieved 56 percent survival rates after three years, double the reported rates for conventional radiation therapy. The researchers are hoping for higher survival rates in the high-risk operable population involved in the current study.

Varian makes the TrueBeam STx and the Trilogy Tx radiosurgery devices.

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