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Breakthrough Drug 'Melts Away' Lung
CancerA breakthrough drug treatment may stop a form
of non-small cell lung cancer in its tracks, according to the University
of Colorado Cancer Center. While the drug doesn't actually cure the
disease, it turns a certain death sentence into a chronic but manageable
This type of lung cancer is characterized by molecular changes in the
tumor that drives its growth. It kills 20,000 Americans every year, but a
new oral drug called an "ALK inhibitor" brings it to a standstill. The
revolutionary drug in effect "melts away" this subtype of lung cancer,
raising the prospect that similar drugs for other forms of lung cancer
may also be found.
"By looking at the very genetics of the cancer, you can say 'This is what
is driving the cancer in the first place,'" Dr. Ross Camidge, assistant
professor of medical oncology at UC Denver, told KCNC-TV in an interview.
"Less than 30 people in the world with this type of lung cancer have been
treated so far with this drug, but almost all of them have had dramatic
responses," Dr. Camidge said. "Our first patient here in Colorado who
tested positive for the ALK fusion protein has no evidence of lung cancer
after just six weeks of treatment. She had been diagnosed with stage IV
non-small cell lung cancer nine years ago."
Phase III clinical trials are scheduled to begin in the fall. If they are
successful, the new drug should be generally available within three
LUNG CANCER FACT: According to the Centers for Disease Control, more
people die from lung cancer than any other type. It accounts for more
deaths than colon cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer combined. In
America in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available,
90,139 men and 69,078 women died from it.