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According to the results of a study recently presented at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Targretin® in addition to chemotherapy improves survival among patients with advanced non-small lung cancer (NSCLC) who have high cholesterol levels.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and Europe. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer and is a malignancy that arises from the tissues of the lung. Under most circumstances, NSCLC is not curable. Current treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Hyperlipidemia is an excess of fats (lipids) in the blood, such as cholesterol and triglycerides. Although cholesterol is an essential compound needed within the body, excessive amounts can contribute to heart disease and stroke.

Targretin is an oral medication that is currently approved for the treatment of a form of lymphoma that affects the skin. Researchers have been investigating the possibility that Targretin may be active in other forms of cancer, as it selectively attacks certain receptors on the cancerous cell that are responsible for cell growth and death.

This recent study involved 612 patients with advanced NSCLC who were randomized to receive either Targretin with carboplatin/paclitaxel or carboplatin/paclitaxel alone. Overall, the average survival and one- and two-year survival rates were not improved with the addition of Targretin, with the average survival being four months in each group. The two-year survival was 12.4% among the Targretin treatment group, compared to 16.3% among the chemotherapy alone treatment group. However, upon further analysis, it was noted that patients who developed a sharp increase in the lipids in their blood after treatment with Targretin experienced a 36% increase in improved survival compared to the chemotherapy alone group.

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Researchers concluded that patients with NSCLC might benefit from Targretin when combined with chemotherapy if they experience a sharp rise in their blood lipid levels after beginning treatment. Further studies are anticipated regarding possible uses for Targretin in the treatment of NSCLC.

Reference: Blumenschein G, Khur F, Gatzemeier U, et al. A randomized phase III trial comparing bexarotene/carboplatin/paclitaxel versus carboplatin/paclitaxel in chemotherapy-naïve patients with advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Proceedings from the 2005 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Presented May 13, 2005. Abstract #LBA7001.

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