Advocacy Group: Lung Cancer Patients Who Have Been Exposed to Asbestos May Be Eligible for Compensation

The Lung Cancer Asbestos Victims Center has launched a national campaign emphasizing that patients diagnosed with any type of lung cancer, not just mesothelioma, may be eligible for significant financial compensation if they have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace, even if the exposure occurred decades ago. The advocacy group lists the types of workplaces with the highest risk of asbestos exposure on their website. Patients or their family members can contact the organization at 866-714-6466 to get more information and to be directed to an experienced law firm.


Clinical Trial Will Examine Effectiveness of CRLX101 for SCLC

Cerulean Pharma Inc. is beginning a phase II clinical trial that will investigate the safety and effectiveness of a novel chemotherapy drug, CRLX101, in patients with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC) who have responded to first-line, platinum-based chemotherapy. The study will compare CRLX101 to topotecan (Hycamtin), which is currently the only approved second-line therapy for relapsed SCLC. CRLX101 is already being assessed as a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in another phase II trial close to completion and may be safer than Hycamtin.


Novel Drugs Show Promise in NSCLC

Medical experts at the 2012 Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium presented data on the growing number of targeted treatments for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with so-called driver mutations—specific genetic mutations that drive tumor growth. Among the drugs showing promise in adenocarcinoma are ridaforolimus for KRAS-mutant tumors, ganetespib for ALK- or KRAS-mutant tumors, and afatinib for EGFR-mutant tumors. For squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), new potential treatments include AZD4547 and BGJ398 (FGFR1-mutant), dasatinib and nilotinib (DDR2 mutant), Tarceva and Iressa (EGFRvIII-mutant), and Yervoy and Cadi-05 (all SCC), while anti–PD-1 antibodies such as BMS-936558 may be effective for both adenocarcinoma and SCC.


Concurrent Chemoradiotherapy May Be Riskier in Lung Cancer Patients with Large Tumors

Concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CRT), which is radiation treatment delivered at the same time as chemotherapy, has been found to be more effective in locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) than sequential treatment with chemotherapy before or after irradiation, but also has greater toxic side effects. A retrospective study of patients with stage IIIA/B NSCLC, who had large tumors and/or extensive cancer spread to the lymph nodes, found that large tumors and presence of other illnesses were associated with shorter overall survival after CRT and higher risk of early death during treatment. While NSCLC patients with extensive lymph node involvement, but smaller tumors, may benefit from CRT without excessive risk, patients with large tumors and/or additional illnesses may be better served by alternative treatment approaches.


Set of Genes May Predict Benefits from ACT for Lung Cancer

While adjuvant chemotherapy (ACT) after surgical removal of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) can help prevent cancer recurrence and improve survival, the average benefits are small and the treatment can have serious side effects. A study of patients with adenocarcinoma identified 12 genes that together predicted the likelihood of better (low-risk) or worse (high-risk) long-term outcomes in these patients. Patients with a high-risk “gene signature” benefitted significantly from ACT, while low-risk patients gained no additional benefit, suggesting that the gene set can be used to pinpoint patients for whom ACT treatment would be worth the risk of side effects.


Combined Tarceva and Whole-Brain Radiation Therapy May Prolong Survival in Lung Cancer Patients with Brain Metastases

Forty patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with brain metastases (cancer that had spread to the brain) were treated with the EGFR inhibitor Tarceva (erlotinib) and whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT). Tarceva plus WBRT was relatively well tolerated and resulted in median survival rates (10.9 months) that were higher than in a previous trial of WBRT alone (3.9 months). The fact that many NSCLC patients carry mutations in the EGFR gene may contribute to the beneficial effects of adding Tarceva treatment to WBRT in NSCLC with brain metastases.


Various Approaches to EGFR Inhibition Can Be Useful in Lung Cancer

A review of recent research discusses EGFR inhibition in the treatment of lung cancer. Scientists have now demonstrated that EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), either by themselves or combined with chemotherapy, are effective first-line treatments for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with EGFR mutations, and as second-line or maintenance treatments for all advanced NSCLC. TKIs like erlotinib (Tarceva) or gefitinib (Iressa), or anti-EGFR antibodies like cetuximab (Erbitux), may also enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy for locally advanced NSCLC. Other biomarkers, such as KRAS mutations, may also help predict response to EGFR inhibition therapy.