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Study: Targeted Therapies Have Boosted Stage 4 Lung Cancer Survival Rates

Advancements in cancer therapy have improved survival time for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to a new study published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.
Published Online: Jan 07,2019
Jennifer Barrett, Associate Editor
Advancements in cancer therapy have improved survival time for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to a new study published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.
 
From 1995 to 2001, patients with NSCLC, an aggressive form of lung cancer, had a 15% chance of being alive 5 years later, according to the National Cancer Institute. New data suggest that the percentage of patients alive 5 years after diagnosis has jumped significantly, likely due to the advancement of targeted treatments for the disease.
 
For the study, the researchers examined 110 patients diagnosed with stage 4 NSCLC whose tumors tested positive for rearrangements of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene between 2009 and 2017. Of the patients in the study, 83% were never smokers and had a median age of 53 years. Most of the patients received crizotinib as their initial ALK inhibitor, according to the study. After treatment with crizotinib, 78% of patients who showed evidence of worsening disease were transitioned to another ALK inhibitor.
 
With a median follow-up of 47 months, the median overall survival (OS) from diagnosis of stage 5 disease was 6.8 years, indicating that 50% of patients were alive 6.8 years after diagnosis versus only 2% being alive after 5 years.

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