Small cell lung cancer is a deadly cancer, but it has only few treatment options. One of the existing treatment options is chemotherapy. Using drug carboplatin, chemotherapy is provided, but it works for a few months is and then it doesn't work anymore. Another treatment option, radiation may not be safe for people who has cancer on both the lungs. That is why, there is need of new and better treatment methods for small cell lung cancer.
Two new studies are suggesting that the wait may be over and more effective and less destructive medicines and treatment options may soon be available.
And new drug candidate may help in slowing the tumour growth in case of small cell lung cancer. It's a drug by AstraZeneca, the British pharmaceutical giant. The drug works on the hard-to-reach cells. A recent study done at the University of Manchester found that it is capable of working those hard to reach cells and slow down the growth of the tumour. The results of the city were published in the Clinical Cancer Research.
Small cell lung cancer spreads pretty fast and the new drug known as AZD3965 may be able to stop it. The cancer cells burn glucose and produce lactate in the form of waste product. The medicine is expected to alter the cells’ ability and as a result may help in getting rid of the waste created by the cancer cells.
Some of the cancer cells have a backup mechanism called MCT4. The new medicine works on the cancer cells without the backup mechanism for clearing the waste lactate. The study also found that one fifth of patients are found with tumours without the backup mechanism. Small cell lung cancer is a deadly disease which has an overall survival rate of 5% five years after diagnosis.
Safer radiation treatment
Radiation treatment may also damage healthy tissue surrounding the cancer cells. Researchers have been trying to find a solution to make radiation safer for the patients.
For patients suffering from lung cancer, the procedure is very tricky. Patients who undergo radiation treatment for lung cancer may have scarring on the lungs, which may create problems with the normal lung functions.
A new method of radiation treatment is being tested. It is known as FLASH. In this method, short bursts of radiation are used in a cycling on and off method, which is thousand times faster than the normal radiation method.
A recent study published in the Science Translational Medicine journal found that FLASH is equally effective as conventional X-ray radiation. However, the method causes less damage to healthy tissues and does not produce scarring or fibrosis. It is better than conventional radiation because it results in less genetic damage to the surrounding healthy tissues.
FLASH is considered as an alternative to another existing and new radiation method known as proton radiation. Proton radiation is already used in case of human patients. Studies are going on to find the effectiveness of proton radiation in case of lung cancer.
However, there will be a problem limited availability of the new radiation methods. The new methods cannot be used with the existing linear electron accelerators which are used in the present radiotherapy and new methods will need huge technological improvements and so it may not be available in different places immediately for treatment of small cell lung cancer.
The development the new drug and the new radiation method implies that the researchers and doctors are working on finding new solutions for difficult to treat cancer problems like small cell lung cancer.