According to an article recently published in the journal Lung Cancer, maintenance therapy with Gemzar® (gemcitabine) delays cancer progression in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer; “non-small cell” refers to the type of cell within the lung where the cancer originated.
Stages IIIB or IV NSCLC refers to advanced NSCLC in which the cancer has spread from the site of origin to distant sites in the body.
The cornerstone of treatment for advanced NSCLC is chemotherapy. Due to the high mortality rates associated with this disease, researchers continue to evaluate new chemotherapy regimens and investigative agents to improve survival for these patients.
Researchers from Europe recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate the addition of the chemotherapy agent Gemzar following initial chemotherapy in the treatment of advanced NSCLC.
This trial included 352 patients with stages IIIB or IV NSCLC who were initially treated with Platinol® (cisplatin) and Gemzar. Following initial chemotherapy, 206 patients were treated with Gemzar for an additional 5 months (maintenance therapy), while the remaining patients received best supportive care.
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Maintenance therapy with Gemzar delayed cancer progression compared to best supportive care:
- Median overall survival was 14 months for patients who received maintenance Gemzar compared with 11 months for those who received best supportive care.
- Cancer progressed after 6.6 months for those treated with maintenance Gemzar compared with 5 months for those treated with best supportive care.
- Treatment with maintenance Gemzar was well tolerated.
The researchers concluded that maintenance therapy with Gemzar improves time to cancer progression in patients with advanced NSCLC. Future trials comparing maintenance therapy to treatment beginning at signs of disease progression are warranted.
Patients with advanced NSCLC may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating maintenance therapy 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.
Reference: Brodowicz T, Krzakowshi M, Zwitter M, et al. Cisplatin and gemcitabine first-line chemotherapy followed by maintenance gemcitabine or best supportive care in advanced non-small cell lung cancer: a phase III trial. Lung Cancer. 2006;52:155-163.
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