Latest Lung Cancer Treatments

Photodynamic and Gene Therapy

New treatments for lung cancer are developing rapidly. Major advances in detection equipment and the medical profession’s understanding of the disease mean there are now new ways of prolonging life and improving the quality of life for lung cancer patients.

Research into the disease is focused mainly on why it develops screening and treatment.

The Internet provides a wealth of web sites offering new hope for people with lung cancer. Some are genuine and offer valuable information about clinical trials and authentic research. Other more dubious sites promote “miracle cures” in the form of seals’ testicles and herbal tinctures! The array of mainstream and alternative treatments on offer can be overwhelming and only a person with lung cancer and their healthcare professionals can decide what is right for them.

Gene therapy for Cancer treatment

Like many cancers, researchers are looking into gene therapy – this makes sense bearing in mind that cells become cancerous because of damage to the genes inside them. And the theory behind it is that if more is known about the genes perhaps there is a way that lung cancer can be prevented.

Current investigations are underway into genes known as p53, USP25 and B-myb, all of which are found to be involved in lung cancer.

Screening for people at risk of developing Lung Cancer

In America trials are ongoing to see whether there is any benefit in using computer tomography (CT) scans to screen people in high risks groups, such as smokers, for lung cancer. These scans can provide amazing 3-D views of the lungs and can pinpoint tiny tambours. They can detect lung cancer at an early stage where it could still be operated on and therefore prove curable.

In the UK researchers are also focusing on people with a history of heavy smoking, lung disease or a family history of lung cancer. There are tests involving the use of fluorescent lighting through a bronchoscopy (a procedure whereby an investigative tube looks in the airways) to help show up any abnormal cells.

However routine screening for people at risk of lung cancer is a long way off as far more scientific evidence is needed to see whether there is any real benefit.

Improving chemotherapy drugs

Research is continuing into improving chemotherapy drugs, how they are given and whether different combinations are more effective. One trial is looking at combining chemotherapy with the controversial drug thalidomide – a drug which can help block the blood supply of a cancer.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is also being looked at to treat advanced lung cancer. PDT is usually combined with a drug to make your body sensitive to light. The drug is eaten up by the cancer cells and then a bright light is shone onto the tumor to kills the cells. This is still a very new therapy and although trials have shown promise not enough research has yet been done to see whether it eases symptoms and for how long.

Other research involves testing a drug called decitabine which can help resistant cancer cells respond to chemotherapy drugs which they had previously fought against.

There are also trials looking at the prevention, growth and spread of the cancer using epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antagonists such as the man-made chemical gefitinib (trade name “Iressa”). These block abnormal signals and chemicals reactions that can cause cancer cells to grow and divide off. They work by attaching themselves to the EGF receptor inside the cell and preventing it from activating.

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