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A NEW tumor marker for lung cancer!


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I'm guessing a lot of you read the lung cancer article in Sunday's Parade magazine, but for those of you who didn't, there were 2 VERY interesting items:

1. ". . . doctors at Duke University are developing a promising noninvasive test to detect early-stage lung cancer . . . The test identifies a protein in the blood (serum amyloid A) that, when elevated, indicates the presence of lung cancer."

2. "Researchers around the country have been testing a new anti-cancer agent, gefitinib, which blocks the signals that stimulate cancer cells to grow. It recently was found to benefit patients with advanced NSCLC."

So, how about that!

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I also recieved some info on gifitinib. It does sound promising.November 6, 2003

A new anticancer agent designed to block the signals responsible for telling cancer cells to grow has shown promising results for patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer.

The results of a double blind, randomized trial of the compound, gefinitib (Iressa), led by Dr. Mark Kris, chief of thoracic oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. A subset of the data from this clinical trial formed the basis for approval of the drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 5, 2003.

"This compound is the first new way to treat lung cancer in decades, and this is good news," said Kris, lead investigator of the multicenter trial. "It is what all people trying to fight cancer want; a pill that specifically attacks the cancer yet does little to adversely affect the person."

Gefinitib is a "designer" drug that targets and blocks an enzyme called tyrosine kinase, part of the epidermal growth factor receptor. Found on the cell surface, the epidermal growth factor receptor is overexpressed in many non-small-cell lung cancers. When the epidermal growth factor response is activated, it signals tumor cells to proliferate and grow. When the signal is disrupted, the tumors regress and apoptosis occurs.

A double-blind, randomized phase II clinical trial of gefinitib was conducted at 30 academic and community oncology centers in the United States. Participating were 221 patients who had either stage IIIB or IV non-small-cell lung cancer for which they had received at least two prior chemotherapy regimens. The drug, in pill form, was taken daily in doses of either 500 mg (administered as two 250 mg gefinitib tablets) or 250 mg (administered as one 250 mg gefinitib tablet and a matching placebo). Of the 221 patients enrolled, 216 received the randomized doses.

An improvement of their symptoms that included shortness of breath, cough, loss of appetite, tightness in the chest, and weight loss was seen in 43% of the patients receiving the 250 mg dose and 35% of patients receiving the 500 mg dose. This improvement was seen within 3 weeks for 73% of the patients who responded. Partial responses were observed radiographically in 12% of the patients receiving the 250 mg dose and 9% of patients on the 500 mg dose. Symptoms improved in 96% of the patients with partial radiographic responses. The overall survival at 1 year was 25%. There was no significant difference between the 250 mg and 500 mg doses in rates of symptom improvement, radiographic tumor regression and projected 1-year survival.

For all patients, the drug was well tolerated with few toxic side effects. These consisted mainly of mild diarrhea and an acne-like skin rash and the effects were seen more frequently in patients receiving the 500 mg doses. All side effects were reversible when drug use was stopped. The FDA approved the 250 mg. dose of gefinitib for treatment of advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer.

"For patients with metastatic lung cancer who have no other options, lessening their symptoms without adding burdensome side effects is a very real benefit," said Kris. "It gives hope that with more research and improved targets, we will do even better" (Kris MG, Natale RB, Nerbst RS, et al., Efficacy of gefitinib, an inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase, in symptomatic patients with non-small cell lung cancer. JAMA, 2003;290:2149-2158).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Am I the only one who believes that there is a cure out there somewhere? I think that there is a simple cure for every disease usually something that is natural. It will be found eventually if we don't destroy too many natural things on our planet. The problem I have is in believing it will ever be made public if found. Just remember right now medicine and pharmasuticals are the largest industy in the world. Billions of dollars are spent every year on testing, Medications and doctors visits. If a simple cure were found for cancer many of the major medical corporations and pharmasutical companies would stand to lose billions. For that reason I think that if such a cure is ever found it will either be kept under wraps or presented in such a way that they can charge outrageous prices for it. We have no option but to trust them but I have serious reservations. I find it very hard to trust docters for my own private reasons as many of you know. Why would docters who normally tell you to eat healthy and exercise and eat foods that build your imune system do a complete turn around when it comes to cancer?? As my mama would say there is something rotten in the woodpile!! Just a few things to think about. I believe it is time to put people in charge of medicine again and kick the corporations out!! Let them make their money making toys or cosmetics or whatever else they can come up with. People deserve people and they deserve to be treated as people and not have the final thought be only someones bottom line!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lillian

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