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Clincal Trials Study Targeted Therapy for Lung Cancer

November 02, 2015

Baystate researchers will be opening a number of clinical trials studying the effectiveness of new treatments, including targeted therapy.

Targeted Therapy: A More Personalized Approach to Cancer Treatment

Targeted therapy gives patients with cancer the treatments that work best on their specific type of tumor.

It is different from standard chemotherapy which acts on all rapidly dividing cells, normal as well as cancerous. Targeted therapy works by blocking the specific molecules in a tumor that are involved in the growth, progression, and spread of cancer.

Lung-MAP Gives Patients Access to Several Potential Targeted Treatments

Lung-MAP is a national clinical trial that will screen a large population of patients with metastatic squamous cell cancer of the lung using a single screening test that looks at more than 200 cancer-related genes for mutations. Each patient is then assigned to a sub-study for the investigational drug that is best matched to his or her tumor’s genomic profile.

Each investigational drug will be evaluated to determine if it is more effective than the current standard therapy in halting or reversing the progress of the cancer and in extending the patient’s life.

This novel approach is more effective than having separate screenings for each drug being studied.

“I expect a large number of patients to enroll because nearly all of our patients with squamous cell cancer will be eligible to be screened,” says Dr. John McCann, Division of Hematology and Oncology at Baystate Medical Center. “This study allows patients to potentially receive investigational treatment targeted specifically to their tumor right here at Baystate.”

Targeted Therapy for Patients Who Have Had Lung Cancer Surgery

Baystate will soon be opening a trial for patients who have had lung cancer surgery and whose tumors have a molecular driver mutation—mutations that are responsible for initiating and maintaining the cancer.

Currently, patients who have had lung cancers surgically removed receive standard chemotherapy to decrease the risk of lung cancer recurrence.

The study will evaluate the benefits, if any, of adding molecularly targeted therapy to the standard chemotherapy.

Patients will be randomized to standard chemotherapy plus molecularly targeted therapy, or standard therapy alone.

“There will also soon be a randomized trial of immune therapy following standard treatment for patients who do not have a molecular abnormality in their tumor,” says Dr. McCann.

More Lung Cancer Trials On The Way

“Baystate has been really active in lung cancer trials,” says McCann. He anticipates opening more trials in the near future, saying that trials are chosen if they are appropriate for their patients and if the treatment is an improvement to the standard of care.

Baystate participates in these large clinical trials through their membership in research cooperatives consisting of hundreds of hospitals, such as NRG Oncology and ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group. Doing so is more powerful because Baystate benefits from the data collected from a larger patient population while contributing to the global knowledge base.

Learn about the Baystate Lung Cancer Screening Program, a Lung Cancer Screening Center of Excellence.

Find out how to volunteer for a clinical trial.