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Lung Cancer Microscopic Appearance Affects Response to Chemotherapy
Date:2/17/2009

Tumor Structure Should Be Considered in Treating NSCLC, Says Report in "The Oncologist"

DURHAM, N.C., Feb. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- A tumor's cellular structure, or histology, improves treatment decisions that may lead to improved outcomes for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the most common type of lung cancer, according to a paper in the latest issue of "The Oncologist."

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The findings are based on an analysis of recent studies of the chemotherapy drug pemetrexed to treat NSCLC. "The data confirm that histology matters when treating NSCLC," says Professor Giorgio Scagliotti, M.D., of University of Turin, lead author of the new report.

Prof. Scagliotti and colleagues analyzed data from two recent phase III studies of pemetrexed for NSCLC, which accounts for about 90 percent of all lung cancers. They focused on how differences in cancer histology affect the response to treatment with pemetrexed. The histology of a cancer is its microscopic cellular structure and in NSCLC, tumors may be classified as having a "squamous" or "non-squamous" appearance.

Their analysis showed significant differences in response to pemetrexed between these two lung cancer subtypes. Specifically, pemetrexed was more effective than current forms of chemotherapy against cancers with a non-squamous histology. For these patients, pemetrexed led to significant improvements in overall survival and in survival without progressive cancer. In contrast, for patients whose cancers had the squamous histology, outcomes were similar with or without pemetrexed.

The two studies were a "frontline" trial including patients with previously untreated NSCLC and a "second-line" trial including patients with previous chemotherapy. The interac
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