A new clinical trial has started to look at the effectiveness of using erlotinib in conjunction with adjuvant chemotherapy in hopes that it will prove to be an effective treatment protocol for non-small cell lung cancer.
Erlotinib is sold under the trade name "Tarceva." It is usually used to treat non-small cell lung cancer that has metastasized and not improved with chemotherapy. It is also used to treat advanced pancreatic cancer, and trials are under way to test Erlotinib's effectiveness against other cancers.
This particular clinical trial regarding non-small cell cancer treatment entered phase 3 earlier this year.
What is lung cancer?
More than 1.2 million cases of lung cancer are diagnosed each year worldwide. Lung cancer causes one death every three seconds and is responsible for nearly 30 percent of cancer deaths in the United States.
Lung cancer is actually a group of cancers that affect the lungs and the two large airways in the lungs (the bronchi). There are two major classes of lung cancer: non-small cell, which is the most common, and small cell.
There are three major sub-types of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) which have earned their names because of how they look under a microscope:
Adenocarcinoma - Approximately 40 percent of all NSCLC cases are adenocarcinoma making it the most common type of NSCLC. This cancer is usually found on the outer surface of the lungs and varies in size and rate of growth. Women and non-smokers who develop this kind of cancer usually get "bronchioloalveolar" carcinoma, which counts for 5 percent of lung cancers.
Squamous cell carcinoma - This type of cancer usually arises in one of the two airways in the lungs (the bronchi) and grows relatively slowly compared to other cancers.
Large cell carcinoma - This type of cancer can appear in any area of the lungs and is known to grow and spread rapidly.
"Approximately 55 to 65 percent of lung cancers are non-squamous NSCLC" (www.radiantlungstudy.com).
Researchers have found that NSCLC has four stages: