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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

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​New Combination Treatment For Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer From UPCI Significantly Improves Survival

DENVER, May 19, 1997University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) researcher Chandra Belani, M.D., announced today that his novel treatment using combination chemo radiation for regionally advanced, surgically unremovable Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) appears promising and could lead to the development of a new standard of care for this disease. The treatment uses TAXOL® (paclitaxel) and PARAPLATIN® (carboplatin for injection), in conjunction with thoracic radiotherapy.

The unprecedented three-year expected survival of 54 percent of patients treated was presented today at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Denver.

"Historically, conventional chemotherapy and radiation treatment for NSCLC patients results in 19 percent survival at the three-year mark," said Dr. Belani, associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and co-director of Experimental Therapeutics at the UPCI. "We are very encouraged to see the exciting results from our study as compared to historical data."

Dr. Belani’s ongoing study enrolled 38 regionally advanced lung cancer patients who received a combination of weekly, low-dose TAXOL® (45 mg/M2, 3 hour infusion) plus weekly carboplatin (100 mg/M2) plus combination thoracic radiotherapy (external chest radiation).

"The message here is that this early, aggressive, well tolerated treatment appears to save a significant number of lives," said Dr. Belani.

Because the one-year survival rate was 63 percent and the two- and three-year expected survival rates are 54 percent, the researchers believe that this early combination treatment may be beneficial in regionally advanced NSCLC.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), lung cancer is the largest single cause of cancer mortality in the United States. Hard to detect and difficult to treat, it is responsible for one of every four cancer deaths in the nation. The current five-year survival rate has remained stubbornly low over time -- 12 percent in 1973 and 13 percent in 1992.

With the rising number of women who smoke, lung cancer surpassed breast cancer in 1987 as the leading cause of cancer deaths among women. However, overall deaths from lung cancer have declined, falling 1.5 percent between 1991 and 1995.

According to Dr. Belani, 170,000 Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer every year. Eighty percent of these patients have NSCLC.

The success of TAXOL® continues to evolve and there are a large number of ongoing studies around the world looking at its effect on virtually every type of cancer.

As one of 26 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers, the UPCI is recognized for its interdisciplinary approach to cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, education and community outreach and for its commitment to translational research that rapidly brings new cancer therapies from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside.

For additional information about this study, please contact the UPCI’s Cancer Information and Referral Service toll-free at 1-800-237-4PCI (724).


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