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Drug Tarceva for End-stage Lung cancer

Patients with end-stage lung cancer who were given Tarceva lived longer than patients// given a placebo.

Lung cancer is the most common cancer occurring both in men and women. Two studies were conducted by Canadian –led international research team with recruits from all over the world.

The first study was conducted by Dr. Timothy Winton of the University of Alberta conducted his study in 482 patients. The study was done to prove that if chemotherapy is given to lung cancer patients after surgery, the survival rate of these patients is high. Surgeries prior to chemotherapy improved cure rate, 69% of the recruits are still alive five years later, compared with 54% who just had surgery. Overall, survival rate was 94 months for the study recruits compared to 73 months for those who had surgery alone.

A new drug Tarceva, generically know as erlotinib has undergone a phase 3 trial in patients with end-stage lung cancer, the study was conducted by researchers at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto and the results were published in New England Journal of Medicine, the study recruited 731 patients from around the world 488 patients received Tarceva and 243 patients were given a placebo. Patients who took Tarceva survived an average of 6.7 months, while placebo patients survived an average of 4.7 months. Though, the average months seem to be low, but you have to understand that Tarceva is given to end-stage lung cancer patients, who have no other chemotherapy options. It should also be noted that up to 15 % of patients lived longer than 2 years on the drug, compared to no one lived longer than 2 years taking placebo.

Though the figures are not so impressive we have to think this drug as a prospective drug as has an effective drug for treating early-stage lung cancer as it easy to cure compared to end-stage lung cancer.

Tarceva is one of the new class of drug that slows down tumor growth by arresting the specific cellular pathwa y that regulates the cell division. Dosage is 1 pill once a day. Tarceva not only increased the survival rate but also had no side effects and improved the quality of life. Patients taking Tarceva had only little symptoms of pain, shortness of breath and coughing, rash and diarrhea which can be easily managed.

“This is very significant because this is the first time that any treatment has been shown to prolong survival for patients with lung cancer after they've failed chemotherapy,” Dr. Shepherd said.

The drug has not yet been approved for use in Canada but was authorized for routine use in patients with advanced lung cancer by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
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