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New lung cancer treatment study

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http://www.nydailynews.com/boroughs/sto ... 2642c.html



Queens Cancer Center Associate Director Gina Villani (l.) and Registered Nurse Linda Bulone will be part of new study.

Queens Cancer Center has embarked on what center officials are touting as a groundbreaking new study of the treatment of advanced lung cancer patients.

The center, part of Queens Hospital, will be the first such facility in the state to enroll patients in the nationwide initiative, which will look at alternative ways to treat stage four lung cancer.

Center Associate Director Gina Villani said the goal "has really been to improve what we are doing, and one of the ways to do that is to look at kind of novel treatments. Things other than chemotherapy."

Villani said that lung cancer is the leading killer among cancers, with more than 150,000 cases diagnosed each year, many of them late-stage.

"For anyone who has stage four lung cancer, we know that chemotherapy is not curative. We have unfortunately seen that with Peter Jennings and Dana Reeve, wife of late actor Christopher Reeve. The public is being continuously reminded of the need to develop more effective treatments," she said.

The study will use two drugs that target cancer in different ways, and use them in combination with standard chemotherapy. Both drugs have been tested and found to be effective in the treatment of other cancers.

"Cancer needs to have blood vessels in order to grow and to spread and to wreak its havoc," Villani explained.

Avastin targets the blood vessels on the cancer cells that cause the cancer cells to grow, the doctor explained. In effect, she said, Avastin starves cancer cells of the nutrients they need to grow and proliferate.

Tarceva is another approved drug for the treatment of patients with lung cancer who have failed at least one chemotherapy regimen. Tarceva acts upon the receptors of cancer cells, preventing growth and survival of the cancer cell.

The drugs will be provided at no cost to patients for the duration of the study.

The goal of this nationally conducted study is to measure whether the combination of these two drugs, administered along with chemotherapy, can prolong life and prevent progression of disease in patients with advanced lung cancer.

Other cancer centers in the state, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, are expected to join the study, said Villani.

Overall, 61% of the people nationwide diagnosed with lung cancer have late-stage disease. In Queens, the figure is 77%.

Approximately 1,220 people are diagnosed every year with lung cancer in Queens, and about 870 in the borough die from the disease, said Linda Bulone, clinical trials manager for the study at Queens Hospital.

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