This latest report was published in the April 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The U.S. National Cancer Institute funded the study.
For the study, Schrag's team randomly assigned more than 4,000 Medicare patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer to one of two groups.
One group received Avastin plus chemotherapy, while the other group was treated with chemotherapy alone. The researchers compared survival between the groups.
They found average survival for patients receiving Avastin plus chemotherapy was 9.7 months, compared with as much as 8.9 months for patients on chemotherapy alone.
In terms of one-year survival, it was 39.6 percent for those getting Avastin and chemotherapy and 40.1 percent for chemotherapy alone.
When they took into account demographic and clinical characteristics in adjusted models, the researchers did not find a significant difference in overall survival between patients treated with Avastin and chemotherapy and those treated only with chemotherapy.
Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, said, "As I pointed out in the past, it is important to study ways to extend quality of life in advanced lung cancer."
This study shows that a drug that was useful in a general age group is not effective in an older age group, he added. "Thus, it may save older patients exposure to an ineffective drug with side effects," he said.
"It is critical that, to the extent possible, we study treatments separately in groups known to differ in responses, rather than subject all to average responses," he said.
For more information on lung cancer, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
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