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The chemotherapy combination consisting of paclitaxel, cisplatin and Gemzar® produces high anti-cancer response rates and prolongs survival in patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, according to a recent article published in the journal Cancer.

Approximately 75% of patients who have lung cancer have a type of cancer referred to as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). There are actually many different types of lung cancer that are classified as NSCLC and are named according to the type of cell within the lung in which the cancer originated. These include epidermoid or squamous carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma, adenosquamous carcinoma and undifferentiated carcinoma. Treatment options for NSCLC depend on the stage, or extent of the cancer. Metastatic NSCLC refers to cancer that has spread to distant locations in the body, often including vital organs. The standard treatment for patients with this disease is chemotherapy. The prognosis for patients with this disease is poor, so new combinations and regimens of chemotherapy agents are currently being evaluated in clinical trials in order to improve survival time in NSCLC patients.

Researchers from Spain recently conducted a clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of a combination of chemotherapy agents consisting of paclitaxel, cisplatin and Gemzar® in the treatment of metastatic NSCLC. Thirty-five patients were included in this trial. Over 73% of patients showed a complete or partial disappearance of their cancer. The average time to cancer progression following treatment was 7 months. The overall average survival time following treatment was almost 1.5 years. This chemotherapy combination was generally well-tolerated, however, there was one treatment related death.

These results are encouraging as they indicate another treatment option for patients with this disease that produces high anti-cancer responses. The expansion of effective treatment options for this disease is promising, as these patients are considered to have a poor prognosis and current effective treatment options are limited. Patients with metastatic NSCLC may wish to speak with their doctor about the risks and benefits of the use of this chemotherapy combination or the participation in a clinical trial evaluating novel treatment strategies. Two sources of information about ongoing clinical trials that can be discusses with a doctor include comprehensive, easy-to-use listing services provided by The National Cancer Institute ( and also provides personalized clinical trial searches on behalf of patients. (Cancer, Vol 89, No 12, pp 2622-2629, 2000)

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