Harvard Health Letter

Combination therapy may be better for one common lung cancer

There's encouraging news for people with the most common genetic subtype of lung cancer. A team of international researchers, led by doctors from Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, has found that, for people with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that carries a mutation in the gene KRAS, a combination of the drug selumetinib and the chemotherapy drug docetaxel was more effective than chemotherapy alone. It's the first time a targeted therapy has been proved helpful against this type of cancer, which represents about 20% of all NSCLC cases. A targeted therapy interferes with molecules involved in the growth and spread of the cancer, but there haven't been any of these therapies for KRAS-mutant NSCLC. The study was published online Nov. 28, 2012, in The Lancet Oncology. There were some side effects for the therapy combination, including white blood cell deficiency and fever. Investigators say more research is necessary to see if the therapy combination can help people with other KRAS-mutant cancers, such as colon and pancreatic cancers.

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