May 30, 1997

Conference outlines lung cancer advances

Conference outlines lung cancer advances

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Jackie Judd hosted the recent Summit on Lung Cancer, a national videoconference dedicated to discussing the disease.

Lung cancer patients and physicians alike too often base their decisions about treatment – or whether to treat at all – on outdated information, panelists in the nation's first Summit on Lung Cancer said recently.

Lung cancer, the No. 1 cancer killer, will kill 160,000 people this year, more than breast, prostate and colorectal cancers combined.

However, there have been significant recent advances in treatment, including development of six new drugs that have entered clinical trials during the past three years, said Dr. Richard Klausner, director of the National Cancer Institute, which hosted the nationwide videoconference.

The program was broadcast live via satellite to 19 leading U.S. cancer centers, including the Vanderbilt Cancer Center.

Ten of the 100 NIH-sponsored clinical trials in lung cancer are actively being enrolled at VCC, said Dr. David P. Carbone, associate professor of Medicine.

"These protocols are for all stages of cancer," Carbone said. "They range from early-phase trials testing new agents to later-phase trials that are randomized between the two best known therapies."

Clinical trials in lung cancer are testing individual new drugs as well as various drug combinations, varying doses and drugs in combination with radiation or surgery, Carbone said. The six new drugs being investigated in advanced stage lung cancer are taxol, taxotere, gemcitibine, navelbine, topotecan and ironotecan.

While about 14 percent of people who develop lung cancer survive five years, the cure rate was only 8 percent in 1964, when the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking was released, panelists said.

Perhaps equally important, the panel agreed, is that advances are making treatment more tolerable, are lengthening survival and improving quality of life for lung cancer patients.

The video summit was sponsored by four patient advocacy organizations to raise awareness about lung cancer and increase the commitment to fight the disease.