Results from a new study offer a ray of hope for patients with non-small cell lung cancer.Researchers from around the world are involved in research on the drug Tarceva, trying to determine its effect on different cancers -- including lung cancer.
Tarceva is a small molecule designed to target the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER1) pathway, also known as EGFR, which is critical to cell growth in many cancers. This study included 731 patients with stage III or stage IV non-small cell lung cancer who had their cancer progress even after chemotherapy.
Researchers found Tarceva (erlotinib) improves survival of advanced non-small lung cancer patients by 40 percent. These are patients who did not respond to standard therapy. Researchers say, until now, no treatments have been effective for these individuals. Researchers also found that those on Tarceva survived an average of 6.7 months compared to 4.7 months for those on standard therapy. Although, it's a difference of only two months, researchers say it's a significant finding. That's also an average -- meaning some patients live beyond those additional two months.
Researchers say the quality of life among patients in the Tarceva group was better than those on standard therapy. Rash and diarrhea were the most commonly reported side effects.