The results of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicate that adding a second or third drug to single-agent chemotherapy regimen for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) may increase tumor response rates, but the triple-drug regimen does not appear to improve survival.

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.

In this study, data from 65 previously conducted clinical trials was reviewed and analyzed. The researchers compared single, double and triple-drug chemotherapy regimens for NSCLC. In the studies where a single agent was compared to a double-agent regimen, a significant tumor response rate and improved survival was observed in the patients receiving the two-drug regimen. In the studies that compared the two-drug regimen versus the three-drug regimen, there was also a significant improvement in tumor response in the patients receiving the three-drug regimen; however, there was no benefit in overall survival.

The researchers concluded that adding a second drug to the chemotherapy regimen improved tumor response rates and survival; however, adding a third drug added no benefit to overall survival. Patients with advanced NSCLC may wish to speak with their physician about two-drug and three-drug chemotherapy regimens.

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Reference: Delbaldo C, Michiels S, Syz N, et al. Benefits of adding a drug to a single agent or a 2-agent chemotherapy regimen in advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

Journal of the American Medical Association. 2004; 4: 470-484.

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