Novel Lung Cancer Treatment May Change the Standard of Care

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Lung Cancer Treatment

Results from a large national clinical trial, led in part by researchers at the Ireland Cancer Center, were released today that may change the standard of care for certain types of lung cancer and help those patients live longer. In findings announced at 4 p.m. on May 13, 2005, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), researchers presented data showing that the addition of the monoclonal antibody Bevacizumab (Avastin) to the standard treatment for advanced, non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer produced improved survival rates for those patients.

The phase III study, conducted by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG), involved 878 patients nationwide who were randomized to standard chemotherapy, paclitaxel and carboplatin, with and without Bevacizumab. Patients who received Bevacizumab lived 2.5 months longer and had a 24.8% shrinkage in their tumors versus 9.4% shrinkage in patients who had chemotherapy alone. Bevacizumab is an anti-angiogenesis inhibitor designed to prevent the formation of new blood vessels to the tumor.

"These exciting results represent a major step forward in the treatment of advanced lung cancer," says Afshin Dowlati, M.D., co-chair of the ECOG trial and oncologist at the Ireland Cancer Center of University Hospitals of Cleveland and assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "Over the years, there has been very little headway in lung cancer therapy. With the use of Bevacizumab, we have for the first time surpassed a one-year survival rate in over 50% of patients with metastatic cancer. Fifteen years ago the survival rate was only four months for patients with this diagnosis. We believe this data has the potential to change the standard of care for this disease."

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"It is exciting to see that a new treatment for lung cancer can be so effective," says
Stan Gerson, M.D., Director of the Ireland Cancer Center and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. "Blocking blood vessel formation has now been shown to prolong the life of patients with lung cancer and will open new doors for even better treatments."

An estimated 172,750 will be diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States in 2005. Lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer and is the leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women in this country. An estimated 163,510 deaths from lung cancer will occur in 2005 in the United States, accounting for about 29 percent of all cancer-related deaths in the nation.

Other significant presentations at ASCO by Ireland Cancer Center physicians include:

Dr. Gerson led a study evaluating a predictive marker for response to a new agent for leukemia. Cloretazine is a novel agent developed by Vion Pharmaceuticals for the treatment of leukemia and other cancers.

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