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According to the results of a study recently presented at the 2005 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, two different combinations of chemotherapy produce equivalent results in extensive stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC), which will provide more treatment choices for this disease.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and Europe. There are two main types of lung cancer, small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. The type of lung cancer often determines the treatment options, since each type responds differently to treatment. Current treatment options for SCLC include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. One chemotherapy regimen that is commonly used for the treatment of extensive stage SCLC is the combination of the drugs etoposide and cisplatin. However, due to poor outcomes associated with this disease, other combinations of chemotherapy are being investigated. Another drug known as Camptosar® (irinotecan) has shown promise in the treatment of SCLC when combined with cisplatin.

In this recent study, 331 patients diagnosed with untreated extensive stage SCLC, were randomized to receive either etoposide/cisplatin for four cycles or Camptosar®/cisplatin for four cycles. Characteristics of the patients in each group were similar overall, with approximately two-thirds of patients having four or more sites of disease. Results of the study indicate that overall there was no difference in the response rates, the time to disease progression or overall survival rates between the two treatment groups. After one year, the overall survival rate was approximately 36% in both treatment groups, and at two years, overall survival was approximately 8% in both treatment groups. Side effects included moderate to severe diarrhea among the patients treated with Camptosar® and a moderate to severe drop in blood counts among the patients treated with etoposide.

Researchers concluded that the combination of chemotherapy consisting of Camptosar®/cisplatin resulted in nearly equivalent outcomes in terms of response rates, time to progression and overall survival as etoposide/cisplatin, among previously untreated patients with extensive stage SCLC.

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Reference: Hanna N, Sandler A, et al. Randomized, phase III trial Comparing Irinotecan/Cisplatin with Etoposide/Cisplatin in Patients With Previously Untreated Extensive Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer. Proceeding from the 2005 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Presented May 14,2005. Abstract #LBA7004.

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