Pill As Good As Chemo Against Lung Cancer

Some advanced lung cancer patients already treated with chemotherapy might be able to skip some of the bad side effects of another series of chemo by taking a pill instead, a study suggests.

An international study showed patients on Iressa, an expensive, newer targeted treatment, survived about as long as those on another course of chemotherapy.

“This will provide us with another drug in our armory,” said Dr. Michael Seckl, head of Cancer Research UK’s Lung Cancer Group at Imperial College in London.

Few treatments for lung cancer exist, and most patients die within a few years of diagnosis. Lung cancer kills about 1.4 million people every year.

Iressa, made by AstraZeneca PLC, is one of several new targeted drugs that attack specific growth receptors on cancer cells, doing less harm to patients. But Iressa costs thousands of dollars every month, much more than standard chemotherapy.

It is sold in the United States, but is not licensed in Europe, although it has been available on a limited compassionate use basis.

Read more at MSNBC