Alecensa (alectinib) halted the spread of lung cancer for a median of 15 months longer than treatment with rival Xalkori (crizotinib) with fewer side effects, according to trial results presented at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago.
Both drugs are designed to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in patients with a mutation of the ALK gene, which is found in about 5 percent of all NSCLC patients.
About 12,500 Americans are diagnosed with ALK-positive NSCLC each year, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which featured the study results at its annual meeting in Chicago.
Alecensa, is currently approved for people with advanced ALK-positive NSCLC that worsens despite treatment with Xalkori, which is approved as an initial treatment.
The 303-patient clinical trial found that Alecensa reduced the risk of cancer progression or death by 53 percent compared with Xalkori. Patients on Alcensa lived for a median of 25.7 months before their cancer worsened, compared with 10.4 months with Xalkori.
Researchers further reported that cancer spread to the brain for just 9 percent of Alecensa patients, compared with 41 percent of the Xalkori group.
The study establishes Alcensa as the new standard of care for initial treatment in NSCLC. Further studies will evaluate whether other drugs combined with Alcensa can further improve outcomes.
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