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Published on 1 May 2009

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Drug extends cancer patients’ lives


Adding a drug to regular chemotherapy treatments could prolong the lives of patients with lung cancer, research has shown.

The phase III study, reported in the Lancet, has shown that adding cetuximab to standard platinum-based chemotherapy for patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) extends survival of patients by just over one month compared with chemotherapy alone.

Cetuximab works by targeting epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFRs), which are involved in the cell signalling machinery responsible for tumour growth.

The study looked at 1,125 patients aged over 18 with advanced NSCLC who had not previously had chemotherapy.

The group was split into those taking cetuximab along with the chemotherapy drugs cisplatin and vinorelbine, and those just on chemotherapy.

The researchers found that survival rates were longer in the cetuximab group compared with the chemotherapy-only group.

Professor Robert Pirker, Medical University of Vienna, Austria, wrote: “Cetuximab added to platinum-based chemotherapy can be regarded as a new standard first-line treatment option for patients with EGFR-expressing advanced non-small-cell lung cancer. Cetuximab also provides new opportunities for clinical research into the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer at earlier stages.”

Copyright Press Association 2009


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