According to a recent article presented at the 11th World Congress on Lung Cancer, the chemotherapy combination Camptosar® (irinotecan) plus Platinol® (cisplatin) following the standard treatment regimen for limited-stage small cell lung cancer produces high anti-cancer response rates and may ultimately improve long-term outcomes for patients with this disease.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for approximately 20 percent of all lung cancers. Treatment for this fast-growing type of cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Limited-stage SCLC refers to cancer that has not spread from the lung and is confined to a single location inside the chest. Standard therapy for limited-stage SCLC includes the chemotherapy regimen consisting of etoposide (VePesid®) plus cisplatin plus radiation therapy. Some patients may also undergo the surgical removal of their cancer. Due to the high responsiveness of SCLC to chemotherapy, researchers have been evaluating novel chemotherapy combinations or the addition of further chemotherapy for treatment of this disease.

Researchers affiliated with the West Japan Thoracic Oncology Group recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the addition of Camptosar/cisplatin to the standard treatment of limited-stage SCLC. This trial included 49 patients who had not received prior therapy. Patients were treated first with etoposide/cisplatin/radiation therapy and then with Camptosar/cisplatin. Overall anti-cancer responses were achieved in the majority (nearly 88 percent) of patients, and over 40 percent achieved a complete disappearance of cancer. At two years, nearly half of the patients were still alive, and at three years, nearly 30 percent of the patients survived. The average duration of survival in these patients was almost two years, while the average duration of recurrence-free survival was close to one year. Serious common side effects included low levels of blood counts (immune cells, red blood cells and platelets), infection, nausea and vomiting.

The researchers concluded that the addition of Camptosar/cisplatin to standard treatment consisting of etoposide/cisplatin/radiation appears to provide high anti-cancer activity in patients with limited SCLC. A large clinical trial directly comparing therapies has been planned to determine the true effectiveness of this regimen for the treatment of this group of patients. Patients with limited-stage SCLC may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating this chemotherapy regimen or other novel therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and www.cancerconsultants.com.

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Reference: Kashii T, et al. Phase 2 Study of Cisplatin Plus Etoposide With Concurrent Thoracic Radiotherapy (TRT) Followed by Irinotecan Plus Cisplatin in Limited-Stage Small-Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC). Proceedings from the 11th World Congress on Lung Cancer. July 2005. Abstract # P-774.

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