May 31, 2009

New Treatment Combination Helps Lung Cancer Patients

The mixture of two anti-cancer medications, along with chemotherapy, can gradually halt advanced non-small cell lung cancer, says a new study released on Saturday.

Patients given Tarceva, made by the Swiss manufacturer Roche, and Avastin, saw their cancer growth halt more than a different group given just Avastin.

750 patients were randomly selected and given either Avastin and a placebo, or Avastin and Tarceva. The Tarceva group lived about 4.8 months before the cancer grew again, contrasting the 3.7 months for the placebo group, said Vincent Miller, the study's main writer.

The final numbers resulted in a 29% reduced risk of cell regeneration for patients who took both Tarceva and Avastin.

Miller, from the Memorial Sloan-Ketterin Cancer Center in New York, offered his study at the 45th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Orlando, Florida this weekend.

Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer and the most common, resulting in 14% of all cancer cases in the US.

It also kills the most, accounting for 23.3% of cancer deaths.

"This is the first study to show that adding erlotinib (Tarceva) to maintenance therapy with bevacizumab (Avastin) delays disease progression in patients who have already received bevacizumab as part of their initial chemotherapy," said Miller.

"We've shown here we can delay progression with the addition of a targeted agent, erlotinib (Tarceva). Critical future work will try to determine which patients will get the greatest benefit from this combination, based in large part on the identification of genetic biomarkers."


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