Cancer therapies revealed at Chicago conference

June 7, 2011 5:46:19 AM PDT
Many of the nation's top cancer doctors and researchers are in Chicago revealing new therapies for several cancers.

For the first time, patients with the deadliest form of skin cancer have two new treatment options that prolong survival. One drug called vemurafenib targets a gene mutation found in about half of those who develop the disease. Another drug, Vervoy, targets tumors.

Also, another study for breast cancer finds a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors specifically the drug aromasin can prevent breast cancer with fewer side effects for post-menopausal women.

What seems to be taking center stage at the cancer meeting in Chicago is targeted therapies. For example, a study involving 14 institutions looked at lung tumors from 1,0000 patients. They found that 60 percent of the tumors had known genetic mutations. As a result, doctors can now try to treat those patients with therapies targeted specifically for those genetic abnormalities.

"We now have 30,000 people a year that have this genetic change. That is a huge amount of people. That's more than women with ovarian cancer. This is really going to impact people lives," said oncologist Dr. Mark Kris.

Also, an experimental drug called crizotinib was able to sharply increase the survival in lung cancer patients with a specific genetic mutation.

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