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Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

Small Cell Lung Cancer, General Topic

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Immunotherapy for Lung Cancer

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Dr. Julie Brahmer, Johns Hopkins University, discusses immunotherapies for NSCLC and SCLC, analyzes the relevant trial data and addresses the unique side effects of these therapies.

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Questions & Answers with Drs. Davies and Atkins, and patient Rusty Cline

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Immunotherapy Forum Video #13: Drs. Davies and Atkins, along with melanoma patient Rusty Cline, sat for a moderated Q&A with Dr. Jack West.


GRACE Video

Why is Immunotherapy More Effective in Some Cancers Than Others? – Part 2

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Immunotherapy Forum Video #12: In Part 2 of 2 videos on this topic, Dr. Michael Atkins explains why immunotherapy appears to be more effective in such cancers as melanoma, lymphomas, and kidney, lung, bladder, and head and neck cancers.


GRACE Video

Why is Immunotherapy More Effective in Some Cancers Than Others? – Part 1

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Immunotherapy Forum Video #11: In Part 1 of 2 videos on this topic, Dr. Michael Atkins explains why immunotherapy appears to be more effective in such cancers as melanoma, lymphomas, and kidney, lung, bladder, and head and neck cancers.


Dr West

Thalidomide in Lung Cancer: Answers from Korea

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To many outside of oncology, thalidomide is primarily known for causing severe birth defects in women who received it in the 1960s as a sedative and treatment for morning sickness. These birth defects, in which babies were born with no arms or legs but with hands and feet directly attached to their trunks, was likely related to the anti-angiogenic (blood vessel blocking) effects of thalidomide. Over the last several years, however, its anti-angiogenic activity has been employed as an oral treatment for some cancers, and it is an approved treatment for multiple myeloma and has been studied in several other cancer settings, including lung cancer. Specifically, one of the settings in which thalidomide has been the subject of several studies has been extensive disease small cell lung cancer (ED-SCLC), as small cell is a blood vessel rich tumor that has been suspected to be potentially vulnerable to anti-angiogenic drugs (for instance, I covered some early work with Avastin in SCLC in a prior post). In addition, thalidomide appears to have immunostimulatory activity in lab-based work, and this may also contribute to potential anticancer activity.

A friend of mine, Dr. Afshin Dowlati at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, recently published on his group’s experience giving thalidomide to patients as a maintenance therapy after initial chemotherapy (abstract here). They enrolled 30 patients who had received 4-6 cycles of initial chemotherapy, which was not specified, who had achieved either a complete or partial response, or else stable disease. (In other words, they enrolled patients who did not demonstrate progression on chemo, which we don’t expect to see after first-line treatment of ED-SCLC.) After 3-6 weeks off of treatment, a total of 30 patients received thalidomide at 200 mg by mouth every evening, with a primary goal of the study to determine the one-year overall survival and overall tolerability of this treatment. Recall that there is no established benefit for maintenance therapy after initial chemotherapy for ED-SCLC (see my prior post on the topic), but we continue to study it because we know that ED-SCLC is often responsive early and then tends to be much more resistant when it returns. The idea of postponing that recurrence with a manageable oral therapy is very appealing, but we still haven’t seen a significant survival benefit despite the compelling rationale behind it. With only 30 patients enrolled, Dr. Dowlati wasn’t going to establish anything definitive, but he did demonstrate that it was a feasible treatment. Patients stayed on thalidomide for a median of 2.4 months, or 79 days. The median survival was pretty encouraging at 12.8 months, and the one-year survival was 52%. The leading side effects were peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the longest nerves of the body, affecting the fingers and toes, primarily) in about 30%, and constipation in 16% of patients, despite a bowel regimen that was started on everyone at the time of starting thalidomide. The investigators considered the results encouraging enough to warrant further study. Continue reading


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