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New trial for targeted lung cancer treatments

Report of a story in the news   |   By Dr Philippa Brice   |   Published 22 November 2011

Source: Nature news

A new clinical trial in the US will investigate whether genetically targeted lung cancer treatments are more effective if used soon after diagnosis. 

National body the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, funded by the US National Cancer Institute, is leading the trial to determine whether such treatments could actually cure lung cancer if given earlier. Typically, drugs such as erlotinib, which targets tumours with mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), are given to patients with suitable tumours if they recur after surgery. In the new trial, some patients will be given the drugs immediately after surgery to see if they have better outcomes. 

Our view:

Although recruiting the required 400 patients is expected to be difficult, since patients must be diagnosed earlier than usual and with relevant tumour mutations to be eligible, this is an important conceptual trial. Alongside moves to improve tumour diagnosis, classification and targeted treatment, research to show how best to deploy these new developments for patient benefit is critical. 

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