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Surgical Resection Versus Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy For Stage I NSCLC: Can Randomized Trials Provide The Solution?

Melanie Subramanian, Bryan Meyers

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Surgical resection has traditionally been considered the standard of care for patients with stage I non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). With the introduction of stereotactic radiation body therapy (SBRT), there is now a viable option for medically inoperable patients with stage I NSCLC. The effectiveness of SBRT in patients with stage I disease but at elevated surgical risk is unknown. Multiple randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have been attempted to compare surgical resection and SBRT in this population, but have been aborted due to poor patient enrollment. Despite these failures, there still remains a push for more RCTs. In this commentary, we review the challenges that RCTs face in their ability to appropriately compare these two therapies.