Recent treatment for lung cancer advances
Recent and ongoing clinical trials surrounding lung cancer treatment is offering new hope to more and more patients. Several recent breakthroughs are offering an extension of life and a quality improvement in the time they provide. In some instances, these new treatments are yielding remission in a significant percentage of patients, something unthinkable only five years ago.
1) Gefitnib (brand name Iressa) drug treatment for Non-small cell lung cancers.
This new drug therapy is showing very positive results for some types of advanced lung cancers. During a phase 3 clinical trial in Japan, this drug showed a 40% improvement of positive response versus the traditional chemotherapy combination of carboplatin plus paclitaxel.
Patients receiving the older drug combination showed only a 30.7% rate of positive response, while gefitnib showed a documented 73.7% rate of positive response. It also showed an increased survival period of 10.8 months versus 5.4 months. However, for gefitnib to be effective, patients must have a somewhat common genetic mutation to their tumor that makes the cancer cells sensitive the active coupounds found in gefitinib.
This drug has limited availability in the United States because earlier clinical trials there failed to identify the necessary gene mutation to maximize its effectiveness.
2) In a different trial, a different tumor genetic mutation enhanced the effectiveness of adding vadimezan, sometimes referred to as ASA404 to standard chemotherapy treatments. The action of this drug is to weaken and destroy the blood vessels that feed tumor growth. Vadimezan was to enter phase III trials in 2010, and may be more widely available once those trials are complete.
3)Photodynamic treatment is growing in popularity for the treatment of stage 0 and stage 1 lung cancers. This lung cancer treatment is two stage: administration of a drug to sensitize fast-growing cells to certain light bandwidths, then using an endoscopic coherent light to bath the surface of the airways with laser light. Only the photo-sensitive cells are destroyed, presumably the tumor cells.
There are also some supporting treatments and palliative, symptom alleviating treatments that significantly impact the quality and length of life which lung cancer patients can expect to enjoy. The key is working with you doctor to put together a plan meets your personal needs.