Alectinib Halts Lung Cancer Growth More Than a Year Longer Than Crizotinib

Excerpt:

“Findings from a phase III clinical trial point to a more effective initial treatment for patients with ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Compared to the current standard of care crizotinib (Xalkori), the newer ALK inhibitor alectinib (Alecensa) halted cancer growth for a median of 15 months longer and caused fewer severe side effects.

“The study will be featured in a press briefing today and presented at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.”

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Incyte ‘IDO’ Combination Lung Cancer Results Improve Slightly at ASCO17

Excerpt:

“The Wall Street gang attending the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting here will be crowding around a scientific poster this morning, craning their necks to see updated results from a small clinical trial combining Incyte’s (INCY) IDO inhibitor epacadostat with Merck’s (MRK) checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

“The headline number: The overall response rate remains 35%, although two lung cancer patients now have improved to complete responses, another 12 patients have a partial response. The data are updated as of Feb. 27.”

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Updates to NSCLC Guidelines Make Testing at Diagnosis, Resistance Essential

Excerpt:

“Updates to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines for the management of advanced non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) stress the importance of multiplexed biomarker testing at diagnosis to aid in the selection of appropriate first-line and subsequent lines of therapy, said presenters at the 2017 NCCN Annual Conference.

“The latest version of the guidelines recommends that PD-L1, in addition to molecular analysis, be employed as a biomarker to direct initial therapy, with ≥50% expression established as the threshold for a positive result. The PD-L1 test ‘decides whether a patient has enough of the marker to warrant initial immunotherapy,’ said presenter Gregory J. Riely, MD, PhD.”

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FDA Broadens Ceritinib Indication to Previously Untreated ALK-Positive Metastatic NSCLC

Excerpt:

“On May 26, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted regular approval to ceritinib (ZYKADIA, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.) for patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors are anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive as detected by an FDA-approved test.

“In April 2014, ceritinib received accelerated approval for patients with ALK-positive metastatic NSCLC whose disease has progressed or who are intolerant to crizotinib based on a blinded independent review committee (BIRC)-assessed overall response rate (ORR) of 44% among 163 patients in a single-arm trial.”

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Radiation Therapy Can Enhance Effectiveness of Immunotherapy in People With Advanced Lung Cancer, UCLA Study Finds

Excerpt:

“A new study by UCLA scientists has found that the breakthrough immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab can be more effective in improving survival in people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) if they have previously received radiation therapy, compared to those without a history of radiation treatment. The findings are important as the strategies of combining radiation therapy with anti-PD-1 antibodies such as pembrolizumb are currently being explored, and have the potential to increase the overall benefit of immunotherapy for people with NSCLC, the most common form of lung cancer.”

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Super ASK Patient: Phil Kauffman Finds Peace in a Pragmatic Approach to Lung Cancer Treatment

In November of 2014, Phil Kauffman went to his primary care doctor with what he thought was a broken rib. The doctor advised him to let it heal on its own—a standard approach for such maladies.

Phil, a retired engineering consultant who lives near San Diego, California, with his wife (their two daughters are grown), went home and waited for his rib to heal, but the pain stuck around for months.

In March of 2015 his doctor ordered an X-ray, but instead of a broken rib, it revealed suspicious spots in Phil’s lung. A CT scan found five lesions characteristic of lung cancer. His rib pain was caused by pleural effusion (liquid) in his right lung, which was extracted, and an examination of that liquid confirmed a diagnosis of stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Phil remembers that during the first week after his diagnosis he was paralyzed with fear. His brother in law, a physician, helped him snap out of it, assuring him that his treatment options guaranteed a survival period of at least a few years or maybe more, and that cancer research was progressing at such a fast rate that the prospect of extending his lifetime beyond a couple of years was good. Continue reading…


The Trouble With KRAS


Mutations in the gene that encodes the KRAS protein are frequently encountered in various human cancers. They are found in about 30% of non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs), making KRAS the single most common gene mutated in this cancer. The rate of KRAS mutations in other cancers, such as pancreatic or colorectal, is even higher.

A mutant KRAS protein that is always in the “on” position activates many signaling pathways, many of which lead to unrestrained growth and proliferation of cancer cells. This makes KRAS an appealing treatment target. However, challenges abound, and researchers are exploring several different approaches to treating KRAS-mutant cancers.

Unlike mutations in proteins known as receptor tyrosine kinases, like EGFR or ALK, mutated KRAS is a very difficult protein to target with cancer drugs. (So much so that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has undertaken a special effort to intensify the effort towards successful targeting of mutant KRAS, known as the RAS Initiative.) Continue reading…


Brigatinib First to Offer over 1-Year Control of ALK-Positive Lung Cancer Post-Crizotinib

Excerpt:

“About 3-5 percent of lung cancers are caused by changes in the gene ALK. In 2011, the FDA granted accelerated approval for the drug crizotinib to target these ALK changes. However, two major problems have remained: Crizotinib does not pass into the brain and so is unable to target ALK-positive lung cancer in the central nervous system, and the genetic diversity of cancer allows the later growth of subpopulations that can resist the drug, leading to renewed growth. In response, researchers have been actively developing next-generation ALK-inhibitors.

“Results of a multi-center, 222-person phase 2 clinical trial of the next-generation ALK inhibitor, brigatinib at 180mg/day, used after failure of crizotinib showed a 54 percent response rate and 12.9 month progression-free survival. (Effects were lower at a lower dose.) Results are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.”

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Targeted Therapy Can Delay Recurrence of Intermediate-Stage Lung Cancer

Excerpt:

“The targeted therapy gefitinib appears more effective in preventing recurrence after lung cancer surgery than the standard of care, chemotherapy. In a phase III clinical trial, patients with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-positive, stage II-IIIA non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who received gefitinib went about 10 months longer without recurrence than patients who received chemotherapy. The study will be presented at the upcoming 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago.

” ‘Adjuvant gefitinib may ultimately be considered as an important option for stage II-IIIA lung cancer patients with an active EGFR mutation, and we may consider routine EGFR testing in this earlier stage of lung cancer,’ said lead study author Yi-Long Wu, MD, a director of the Guangdong Lung Cancer Institute, Guangdong General Hospital, Guangzhou, China. ‘We intend to follow these patients until we can fully measure overall survival as opposed to disease-free survival, which just measures disease recurrence.’ ”

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