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Gene Test May ID Lung Cancer Spread

Researchers Say Test May Let Some Patients Avoid Unnecessary Chemotherapy

Alimta for Advanced Lung Cancer

Also at the meeting, researchers are scheduled to report that people with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer may benefit from taking the anticancer medication Alimta after finishing their regular course of chemotherapy.

In a study of 581 patients, cancer progressed in patients given placebo after just two months vs. four months for those on Alimta.

Also, there's also some suggestion that the additional treatment may extend lives, says Tudor Eliade Ciuleanu, MD, PhD, associate professor at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Iuliu Hatieganu in Romania. His team is continuing to follow the patients to determine if it does improve survival rates.

"This is the first study to show that lung cancer patients can benefit from maintenance therapy. The fact that this approach significantly increases the amount of time that patients have before their cancer progresses, without increasing additional side effects, is particularly significant," he says.

Before being randomly assigned to Alimta or placebo, all the patients had completed a standard chemotherapy regimen.

Alimta is approved to treat non-small-cell lung cancers that progress despite standard chemotherapy.

The new findings suggest patients may benefit from receiving Alimta even before their tumors start to come back, says Schilsky. He was not involved with the work.

A total of 215,020 Americans will be newly diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008, and 161,840 will die of the disease, according to estimates by the American Cancer Society.

The researchers received funding from Eli Lilly, which makes Alimta.

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