Oncology Central

US FDA-approved drug could be effective in both older and African–American lung cancer patients

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Scientists at the University of Cincinnati (OH, USA) led by Nagla Karim have identified a drug that could be used to treat both older and African–American patients with advanced lung cancer who may not be candidates for chemotherapy treatment. These findings were published in the November issue of Clinical Medicine Insights: Oncology.

The Phase II study has revealed that the US FDA-approved drug gefitinib could be used to treat patients with non-small-cell lung cancer, for which few treatment options are currently available. The drug targets and interrupts signaling through the EGF receptor to control the progression of cancer.

“The EGF receptor has been found in higher quantities in a variety of solid tumors, including non-small-cell lung cancer,” explained Karim. “Gefitinib is a safe oral agent that may be of benefit to a specific population of these patients.”

“Improving the quality of life for patients with this type of lung cancer is an important goal as there is currently no beneficial treatment for them and chemotherapy is often not an option because of their poor health status.”

The study included twelve patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer who had poor prognosis but had not yet received chemotherapy. Response rate, progression-free survival, overall survival and quality of life were assessed using the Functional Assessment of Cancer-Lung questionnaire and Trial Outcome Index. The average age of the patients evaluated was 69 years, and the average duration of treatment was approximately 62 days.

The index was used to compare information collected from the questionnaire. The average overall survival was almost 5 months, the progression-free survival was approximately 3 months, and quality of life and outcomes scores were higher in African–Americans compared with Caucasians, as well as in older patients.

“Gefitnib is an overall active and well tolerated therapy for this subgroup of patients with a poor prognosis and was found to improve quality of life,” Karim commented. “In spite of the small number of patients in the study, our results suggest that older patients and those who were African–Americans had higher quality of life scores and felt this treatment improved their outcomes. This study may provide evidence that gefitnib could be an option for therapy in this subgroup of patients for which chemotherapy is not recommended.”

Source: Zarzour A, Abdelkarim N, Musaad S, Jazieh A, Patil S. Phase II Clinical Trial of Gefitinib for the Treatment of Chemonaïve Patients with Advanced Non-small Cell Lung Cancer with Poor Performance Status. Clinical Medicine Insights: Oncology. 8, 121–128 (2014); University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center press release

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