Erlotinib increases survival by several months
An international clinical trial led by Canadian researchers has demonstrated that a drug called erlotinib increases survival in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer who typically have no other treatment options.
The trial, funded by the Canadian Cancer Society and published in tomorrows issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, involved 731 patients at centres in North and South America, Europe, Israel, New Zealand, Asia and South Africa. The patients had already received at least one or two regimens of chemotherapy and were randomly assigned to one of two groups: 488 patients received erlotinib and 243 received a placebo. The researchers found that treatment with erlotinib resulted in longer survival compared to the placebo. Patients who received erlotinib survived an average of 6.7 months, while patients on placebo survived an average of 4.7 months – a 42.5 per cent improvement. Of the patients receiving erlotinib, 31 per cent were alive after one year, compared to only 22 per cent of patients receiving placebo. Unlike many chemotherapies, erlotinib was generally well-tolerated and caused only minor side effects.
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