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Skin Rashes Signifies Longer Survival in Cancer Patients

tly discontinue treatment, patients should talk to their doctor about an effective and proactive strategy to manage the rash while continuing Tarceva therapy."

According to the researchers, these rashes can be controlled with mild steroids or antibiotics, and in most cases, they will improve with treatment. They are believed to be due to an inflammatory response as a result of EGFR inhibition in skin tissue, Wacker said.

The analysis looked at two placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized, Phase III clinical trials testing Tarceva in advanced non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer - studies which led to approval of the agent for treating both cancers. Wacker and his team excluded patients who died in the first month after starting the study because they may not have had time to develop the rash or the rash may have been under-reported in these ill patients.

Of the 673 patients in the lung cancer study, called BR.21, and in the Tarceva-treated group, 81 percent developed a rash, the majority of which was grade 2 (The study graded rashes from 1, relatively mild, to 4, severe).

The researchers found that the presence of any rash correlated with overall and progression-free survival and that these correlations increased with the grade of rash. Specifically, Tarceva-treated patients who did not develop a rash survived a median of 3.3 months, compared to 7.1 months for those with a grade 1 rash, and 11.1 months for patients with more severe, grade 2 rashes.

They also found, however, that 18 percent of patients treated with a placebo also developed a rash, and that overall survival in these patients was also significantly longer (a median of 8.2 months compared to 4.7 months), compared to placebo patients who didn't develop a rash. "We don't know why some patients treated with a placebo developed a rash, but it could be due to the strength of their immune system, and that is why they survi
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