Researchers announce new predictor for lung cancer treatment and survival

June 05, 2006

CLEVELAND: Research from the Ireland Cancer Center of University Hospitals of Cleveland has found a promising, novel biomarker that may be used to predict the survival of patients with advanced lung cancer and their response to treatment. Afshin Dowlati, MD, hematologist/ oncologist at the Ireland Cancer Center, presented this study June 5 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Dr. Dowlati found that patients with a low level of the biomarker ICAM had a better chance of survival and an increased response to chemotherapy. Dr. Dowlati analyzed data from a major national study, released at ASCO in 2005, that found the monoclonal antibody Bevacizumab (Avastin), in addition to standard therapy, was more effective than standard treatment alone for patients with advanced, non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer.

The analysis indicated that patients with low levels of ICAM (intercellular adhesion molecule -1), had a higher response rate to treatment (29% versus 13%) than patients with high ICAM levels. Patients with low ICAM levels also had a significantly better overall survival rate.

"We believe this research confirms a significant new prognostic marker in lung cancer," says Dr. Dowlati, who is also assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "Previously, it has been a challenge to identify those patients that will respond best to treatment and what their outcomes will be. This biomarker appears to serve as a much better predictor than gender, patients' overall health and sites of metastases." These findings confirm a pilot study performed three years ago at Ireland Cancer Center by Drs. Dowlati, Scot Remick and Keith McCrae, an expert in blood vessel disorders found in cancer.

Data was analyzed from a phase III study, conducted by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG), which involved 878 patients nationwide who were randomized to standard chemotherapy - paclitaxel and carboplatin - with and without Bevacizumab. Patients who received Bevacizumab lived 2.5 months longer and had a 24.8% shrinkage in their tumors versus 9.4% shrinkage in patients who had chemotherapy alone. Bevacizumab is an anti-angiogenesis inhibitor designed to prevent the formation of new blood vessels to the tumor.

"This represents a major step forward in treating patients with advanced lung cancer," says Stanton Gerson, MD, Director of the Ireland Cancer Center and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. "This biomarker may help clinicians identify patients who are candidates for treatment and who will benefit from it. This finding is likely to be useful in other cancers as well."

Lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer and is the leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women in this country. An estimated 163,510 deaths from lung cancer occurred in 2005 in the United States, accounting for about 29 percent of all cancer-related deaths in the nation.

Other significant presentations at ASCO by Ireland Cancer Center physicians include:
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University Hospitals Health System is celebrating 140 years of caring for Cleveland. Its 947-bed, tertiary medical center, University Hospitals of Cleveland (UHC), is the primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University (Case). Together, they form the largest center for biomedical research in the State of Ohio. The System provides the major clinical base for translational researchers at the Case Research Institute, a partnership between UHC and CWRU School of Medicine, as well as a broad and well-characterized patient population for clinical trials involving the most advanced treatments. Included in UHC are Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, among the nation's best children's hospitals; Ireland Cancer Center, designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center (the nation's highest designation); and MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women.

Committed to advanced care and advanced caring, University Hospitals Health System offers the region's largest network of primary care physicians, along with outpatient centers and hospitals. The System also includes a network of specialty care physicians, skilled nursing, elder health, rehabilitation and home care services, managed care and insurance programs. For more information, go to www.uhhs.com.

University Hospitals of Cleveland

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