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Tissue analyses indicate survival benefits for some lung cancer patients

Taking small tissue samples from patients with lung cancer and examining them under a microscope (a procedure called histology) is now being utilized to better tailor the chemotherapy treatments to improve survival in some patients with non-small cell lung cancer, according to a study presented at the 2008 Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology, cosponsored by ASTRO, ASCO, IASLC and the University of Chicago.

Cancer researchers have begun to believe in a tailored approach to chemotherapeutic intervention based on the histology or tissue type in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. To prove this hypothesis, cancer researchers from Pennsylvania State Hershey Cancer Institute in Hershey, Pa., Medical University of Vienna in Vienna, Austria, University of Torino in Orbassano, Italy, and Eli Lilly and Company of Indianapolis, Ind., considered two large studies, each of which compared pemetrexed-based (chemotherapy-based) treatment to a control treatment. They analyzed each of these studies for the presence of a treatment-by-histology interaction. A treatment-by-histology interaction exists if the relative benefit of the pemetrexed-based treatment (compared to the control treatment) depends on histology. The analyses show that a strong treatment-by-histology interaction exists for both studies, indicating that pemetrexed-based treatment is more effective in patients with non-squamous histology as compared to squamous histology.

"Nonsquamous histology is predictive of improved efficacy of the chemotherapy agent pemetrexed in patients with non-small cell lung cancer," said Chandra Belani, M.D., a lung cancer specialist from Pennsylvania State Hershey Cancer Institute. "This study is building the body of evidence showing that examining tissue types can help doctors find the most effective treatments for patients with lung cancer and other diseases."


Contact: Beth Bukata
American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology

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