Nonsmall cell lung cancer is one of the largest types of cancer, along with breast, prostate and colon. Unlike the other three cancers, however, it produces a very high rate of mortality and relatively short remaining lifespans after diagnosis. This is partly due to the fact that most lung cancer is diagnosed in the more advanced stages of the disease.
A trial reported at the recent ASCO conference in Chicago demonstrated that when maintenance chemotherapy consisting of Alimta (pemetrexed) was administered in advanced lung cancer patients after initial therapy with cisplatin plus Alimta, patients lived longer by a median of 2.9 months. The group receiving maintenance therapy was compared to a group receiving placebo.
In this type of lung cancer, even a 3 month survival difference is considered significant. Patients were allowed to receive the maintenance therapy if they showed some positive response to the initial doublet therapy – either shrinkage of the tumor or a stabilization of its growth.
The positive results seen here with maintenance therapy confirm positive outcomes with other cancers like multiple myeloma, where maintenance therapy has been show to be beneficial, after initial positive results with a stronger therapy or with stem cell transplant.
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