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Targeted Drugs, Lung CT Screening Top Cancer Advances in 2011
Date:12/6/2011

,000 current and former heavy smokers found that three yearly low-dose CT scans reduced the death risk from lung cancer by 20 percent compared with people screened with three annual chest X-rays. Some experts have said that more study may be needed before recommending regular CT screening for all smokers, however, pointing to factors such as cost and high rates of false-positive results.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted approval to crizotinib (Xalkori) for patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer who have a specific gene mutation. In one study, 50 percent of patients talking the medication saw their tumors shrink completely or partially for an average of 10 months. Another study found a 61 percent response rate that lasted an average of 12 months.
  • The FDA also approved ipilimumab (Yervoy) for patients with previously untreated metastatic melanoma. The drug works by activating the patient's immune response. The trial showed that when combined with standard chemotherapy using dacarbazine, Yervoy extended life by two months.
  • Finally, there was the first conclusive evidence that exemestane (Aromasin) a so-called aromatase inhibitor, reduced the risk of developing breast cancer, making it a preventative treatment option for postmenopausal women at high risk for breast malignancies.
  • According to Vogelzang, the take-home message for patients is that, "cancer therapy continues to get better and better each year. Side effects are reducing. The old story of chemotherapy is going away -- this is no longer your grandfather's Buick -- these are pills that make cancer a truly manageable disease, much like diabetes."

    Other topics in the report include: Ways to deal with troublesome, ongoing shortages of certain chemotherapy drugs, and the impact of health care reform might have in addressing disparities in cancer care.

    In addition, the report looked at ways to improve clinical cancer research in the United State
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