According to the American Cancer Society, there are 172,000 Americans diagnosed with lung cancer each year. Because there are no early screening tests, many of these cancers are caught in their later stages, making them difficult to treat. A new drug is now helping patients who have failed standard treatment.
By going after that protein, the drug stops the cancer from growing. Studies show as many as 20 percent of patients //taking the drug actually had their tumors shrink by 50 percent or more. Another 35 percent had symptoms relieved.
Marcie has stage four lung cancer.Her first dose of chemotherapy didn’t work. More chemo and radiation followed, but her cancer didn’t go away. She says, "You want to hear words of encouragement and hope. You know, you just long for something."
Those words of hope came when she met Oncologist Karen Kelly, M.D., who introduced her to a promising drug called ZD-1839. ZD-1839, specifically targets a specific protein on a cancer cell,Says Dr. Kelly, of University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.
Dr. Kelly says, "It really provides them with a chance to have prolonged survival with a high quality of life. It’s not a magic bullet, but it really has helped a lot of patients with lung cancer."
Marcie takes the drug every day. She says, "This drug has given me renewed life and renewed hope and renewed faith. I live now with a love of life and enjoy every day and try not to take any day for granted." With more energy and more strength, she’s able to live life to the fullest.
On May 5, 2003, the FDA approved this drug for advanced stage lung cancer under the name Iressa. The major side effect of the drug is a mild skin rash, which can be treated with medication if needed. It is currently only offered to patients who have failed at least two different treatments of chemotherapy. The drug is given once a day in tablet form.
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