who chairs the Lung Committee of the Southwest Oncology Group, is
the principal investigator for one hopeful study. A drug called
docetaxel (brand name Taxotere) was given to lung cancer patients
with locally advanced (stage IIIB) disease after concurrent chemotherapy
and radiation treatment. The 83 patients with locally advanced lung
cancer who participated in this trial doubled their expected survival
time. Two-year survival was 51 percent, with a median survival of
26 months, compared to 34 percent and 15 months in patients in a
related study who received chemotherapy and radiation but not docetaxel.
is part of a family of drugs known as taxanes, which are derived
from the European yew tree. Docetaxel works by stabilizing the tubular
struts of cancer cells, keeping them from dividing and proliferating.
results are unprecedented. Nothing in the literature parallels this
kind of survival in this group of patients," said Gandara,
who was selected to present his findings at the American Society
of Clinical Oncology annual meeting last spring. "We picked
the very worst patients with stage III disease, yet they did better
than less-sick patients using this regimen."
cells are notorious for developing defenses against chemotherapy
drugs," added Primo Lara, an assistant professor of medicine
who helped in Gandara's Phase II study. "By replacing some
of the older chemotherapy drugs with docetaxel we were able to get
results that were fantastic. This type of drug sequencing is clearly
an advance for patients."
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