A total of 345 patients with advanced, EGFR-sensitive lung cancers were given either afatinib or standard chemotherapy. Those on the new drug saw a significant jump in terms of survival without disease progression -- an average of 11 months, versus just under seven months for those on standard chemo. And for the subset of 308 patients with the most common EGFR mutations, progression-free survival nearly doubled, to 13.6 months.
Lung cancer symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath also declined in people on the new drug. Overall, patients on afatinib "had better quality of life and better symptom control than with [standard] chemotherapy," study author Dr. James Chih-Hsin Yang, of National Taiwan University Hospital, said at the press briefing.
According to ASCO spokeswoman Adams, these studies "promise to expand the range of effective and targeted therapies for patients with common cancers."
Findings presented at medical meetings are typically considered preliminary unless (as with the trametinib trial) they are also published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Find out more about gene-targeted therapies at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
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