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Lung Cancer Health Center

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Lung Cancer Drug Crizotinib Shows Promise

57% of Patients With Advanced Disease Had Tumors Shrink After Treatment

Larger Crizotinib Trials Under Way

Kwak says the responses were all the more remarkable because the early trial was designed to examine the drug’s safety, not its efficacy.

But despite the enthusiasm, Kwak tells WebMD that many of the patients enrolled in the early trial have developed resistance to the drug.

Acquired drug resistance has been a problem with many other targeted cancer drugs.

“Cancer cells are smart,” she says. “They tend to develop resistance to the therapies we give.”

Drug maker Pfizer, which is developing the drug, is conducting larger trials specifically designed to test its effectiveness in previously treated patients with ALK-positive tumors. A Pfizer spokesman tells WebMD that the company hopes to submit data to the FDA during the first half of next year in its bid to win approval.

It remains to be seen if the drug is as effective in patients with less advanced disease who have not been treated with chemotherapy or if combining it with chemotherapy will improve outcomes, American Cancer Society’s Lichtenfeld says.

Lung cancer researcher Roman Perez-Soler, MD, says the findings show the promise of targeted treatments for certain cancers.

Perez-Soler is chief of the Division of Medical Oncology at the Montefiore-Einstein Center for Cancer Care in the Bronx, New York.

“This is one more example of how understanding the individual characteristics of a tumor at the molecular level can help us treat the disease,” he says.

But he does not believe targeted treatments will one day be available for all cancers.

“I wish this were the case, but my feeling is that it isn’t,” he tells WebMD. “We now know that targeted therapies can work. But that doesn’t mean we will find them for all cancers.”

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