31
Mar

New research explains why even targeted therapies eventually fail in lung cancer

Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Nearly 50 years into the “war” on cancer, doctors possess weapons that once would have seemed magical in their tumor-killing specificity. The drug Tarceva (erlotinib), for example, can virtually erase all traces of aggressive lung cancer tumors in a subset of patients who bear a particular disease-driving mutation in a gene called EGFR.

The problem with this and other drugs of the targeted-treatment era is that usually they afford only a respite. Within a year or two, most people suffer a recurrence. They can be treated again, but with disappointing results: typically, the length of remissions shrinks, and before long the cancer wins the battle and kills the patient.

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