Experimental treatment promising for lung cancer patients


by KING 5 News


Posted on December 7, 2010 at 7:50 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:45 AM

More people die from lung cancer than breast, prostate and colon cancer combined. It will kill nearly 160,000 people this year alone. But doctors are testing out a new experimental treatment that is making a dramatic difference.

"Lung cancer was really a shock," said Glenn Mitchell.

Glenn has never smoked, so he did not expect the diagnosis.

But after less than two months of a new experimental treatment, just three pills twice a day, his cancerous tumor was gone.

“The tumor that we saw is gone,” said Suresh Ramalingham, MD of Emory University Winship Cancer Institute.

"I expected the drug to work, but not in four weeks," said Glenn.

Mitchell is one of more than 100 patients testing an experimental drug called Crizotinib. It targets the switch that turns cancer on and off.

"So the cancer cells for them to grow and multiply and spread to other parts of the body constantly require certain signals to be on, and this drug turns off the switch," said Suresh.

In recent studies, more than half the patients taking the experimental drug saw their tumors shrink.

Mitchell's treatment is going so well, he can think less about his lung cancer, and more about enjoying his retirement.

There are three separate clinical trials of the drug now recruiting patients in the Seattle area. Click here for more information.