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According to preliminary results presented at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), treatment with Sutent® (sunitinib) resulted in partial cancer shrinkage in 9.5% of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); stable disease was reported in 41% of patients.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 75%–80% of all lung cancers.

Sutent is an oral medication that is classified as a multi-kinase inhibitor. It inhibits pathways of a cell that are involved in the cell’s growth and replication; these pathways are also implicated in the spread of cancer in the body. Sutent is approved for the treatment of advanced kidney cancer, as well as for treatment of certain patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors.

To explore the safety and efficacy of Sutent among patients with advanced NSCLC that has progressed after standard treatment, researchers conducted a phase II clinical trial among 63 patients.

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  • Six patients (9.5%) experienced a partial shrinkage of cancer.
  • 26 patients (41%) experienced stable disease (cancer that stopped growing).
  • Mild to moderate side effects included fatigue, nausea, shortness of breast, vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.
  • Serious side effects were less common and included severe fatigue (19%), shortness of breath (13%), lack of energy (9.5%), and nausea/vomiting (7%).
  • Two patients died of bleeding in the lungs and one patient died of bleeding in the brain.

The researchers conclude that Sutent was well tolerated and may have a place in the treatment of lung cancer, either alone or in combination with other agents. This is the first clinical trial to evaluate Sutent alone in the treatment of advanced lung cancer that has progressed after standard therapy.

Reference: Socinski MA, Novello S, Sanchez JM et al. Efficacy and Safety of Sunitinib in Previously Treated, Advanced Non-small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): Preliminary Results of a Multicenter Phase II Trial. Presented at the 2006 ASCO Annual Meeting. Abstract 7001.

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