ASCO Annual Meeting
May 31, 2014
Results from a new study show that combining the targeted therapy ramucirumab (Cyramza) with standard chemotherapy lengthens the lives of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Specifically, ramucirumab targets a protein called VEGF receptor 2, blocking the growth of new blood vessels in the tumor that are needed for the tumor to grow and spread.
In this study, ramucirumab was combined with a current standard chemotherapy, docetaxel (Docefrez, Taxotere), as a second-line therapy. Second-line therapy is treatment given after the first treatments, called first-line therapy, stop working. There are few treatments approved as second-line therapy for NSCLC, and those that are currently available do not often work very well, with patients living about seven to nine months.
The 1,253 patients who participated in this study had stage IV NSCLC that had worsened while receiving chemotherapy. They received either ramucirumab plus chemotherapy with docetaxel or an inactive treatment called a placebo plus docetaxel. Researchers found that almost 23% of patients who received ramucirumab plus docetaxel had the tumors shrink, compared with about 14% of those who received the placebo plus docetaxel. In addition, patients who received ramucirumab plus docetaxel lived about one and a half months longer than those who received the placebo plus docetaxel, ten and a half months compared with nine months.
What this means for patients
“This is the first treatment in approximately a decade to improve the outcomes for patients in the second-line setting,” said lead study author Maurice Pérol, MD, Head of Thoracic Oncology at Cancer Research Center of Lyon in France. “The survival improvement is significant because patients with advanced NSCLC typically have a very short survival time following second-line therapy.” If you have NSCLC, talk with your doctor about the treatment options currently available, including clinical trials, and how those options will affect the length and quality of your life.
Questions to ask your doctor
- What type and stage of lung cancer do I have?
- What treatments have I already received?
- What is my chance of recovery?
- What are my treatment options?
- What treatment do you recommend? Why?
- What is the chance of success with the planned treatment?
- What clinical trials are open to me?