Possible new Lung Cancer Chemo Combo

Non small cell lung cancer responds to chemotherapy combination

(RxWiki News) Scientists continue to search for next-step treatment options for people living with lung cancer. A combination of chemotherapy agents may be an alternative for some folks.

Combining two chemotherapy drugs (nab-paclitaxel and carboplatin) appears to be an effective option for people with a particular type of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). 

"Find out if combination therapies are available for your condition."

A small study led by Gregory A. Otterson, M.D., professor of internal medicine, co-director of the thoracic oncology program at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, involved 63 people with advanced NSCLC.

Just over three-quarters (76 percent) of participants with a certain type of NSCLC (squamous cell) can't take standard therapies because of dangerous bleeding and blood clotting side effects.

D. Ross Camidge, M.D., Ph.D., the director of the lung cancer clinical program at University of Colorado Hospital, explains the dilemma to dailyRx: "Squamous cancer varies in frequency around the world but probably represents 30-40 percent of most NSCLCs.

"It has lagged behind in terms of molecular breakthroughs, and some of the earliest targeted drugs that work on blood vessels, i.e. bevacizumab (Avastin), had some safety issues in squamous cancers...so even the list of 'standard' drugs is shorter for this subtype of NSCLC," Dr. Camidge says.

In this study, researchers gave the participants 300 mg of the combined therapy, which was later adjusted to 260 mg because of neuropathy (numbness in the extremities).

Researchers found an overall response rate of 41 percent among 53 patients. Additionally, the disease in 39 percent of patients stabilized for at least six weeks, and the cancer progressed in 19 percent of patients.

Serious side effects were experienced by 10 percent of patients, and four individuals died as a result of toxicity.

As a result of these findings, Dr. Otterson said, "This combination treatment should be an option, particularly for patients with squamous histology who have limited alternative options."  

Dr. Camidge told dailyRx, "While the high response rate in a group dominated by squamous cancers is encouraging, this is a relatively small non-randomized trial, and how this compares to standard doublets, in terms of response, tolerability and duration of benefit remains to be seen."

Findings from this study were presented at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012. Until published in a peer-reviewed journal, research results are considered preliminary.

Review Date: 
April 10, 2012