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Results of a study recently published in Clinical Cancer Research indicate that researchers have identified an enzyme that may predict overall survival outcomes in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and Europe. The most common type of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, is a malignancy that arises from the tissues of the lung. In most cases, NSCLC is not curable. Treatment for NSCLC often consists of platinum-based chemotherapy in addition to surgery and radiation.

The study identified a lead enzyme (ERCC1), which in high levels, has been found to be resistant to platinum chemotherapy. Two variations of ERCC1 were encountered and were examined in 128 patients diagnosed with advanced stage NSCLC treated with platinum-based chemotherapy. There was a significant association between ERCC1 enzyme variations and overall survival, with high levels of the enzyme correlating with reduced survival times. Patients with lower levels of the enzyme experienced longer average survival times (22 months), compared to patients with higher levels of the enzyme (13 months).

Researchers concluded that identification of the ERCC1 enzyme may be a useful predictor in overall survival in advanced NSCLC. Further testing may be necessary. For more information, patients may wish to speak to their physician regarding treatment options.

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Reference: Zhou W, Gurubhagavatula S, Liu G, et al. Excision repair cross-complementation group 1 polymorphism predicts overall survival in advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients treated with platinum based chemotherapy. Clinical Cancer Research. 2004; 10: 4939-4943.

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