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Clinical insight improves treatment with new lung cancer drug
Date:4/4/2012

AURORA, Colo. (April 4, 2012) - Men experience a marked drop in their testosterone levels when taking a targeted therapy to control a specific type of lung cancer. That's according to a University of Colorado Cancer Center study published in the April issue of Cancer, the official journal of the American Cancer Society.

Investigators at CU Cancer Center looked at the hormone levels in men with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) taking crizotinib, after a 35-year-old man on the drug reported symptoms that are often attributed to low testosterone levels: fatigue and sexual disinterest.

Crizotinib tablets were licensed by the Food and Drug Administration in August 2011, because of its dramatic and long-lasting suppression of ALK positive lung cancer. ALK positive lung cancer was only recently described so very few cancer centers have a lot of experience identifying and treating this subtype of the disease. CU Cancer Center was involved in the initial development of the drug and has treated one of the largest groups of ALK positive patients in the world.

The testosterone study included 19 men with lung cancer taking crizotinib and 19 men with lung cancer receiving other kinds of therapy. Andrew Weickhardt, MD, senior clinical fellow at the CU Cancer Center, and one of the study's co-authors said listening to the specific issues of that one young man, and a growing awareness of the incidence of low testosterone in cancer patients, made investigators look more closely at their patient population.

"While testosterone was low in only about thirty percent of men on other therapies, it was low in one hundred percent of the men who were on crizotinib. And when we started to track it over time, we could clearly see testosterone levels dropping within days of starting on the drug," said Weickhardt.

As men may stay on crizotinib for months, or even years, the effects of lo
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Contact: Erika Matich
erika.matich@ucdenver.edu
303-524-2780
University of Colorado Denver
Source:Eurekalert

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