(HealthDay News) — For patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have relapsed after initial treatment, the addition of the anti-angiogenesis drug ramucirumab to standard docetaxel chemotherapy extends survival. This finding was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from May 30 to June 3 in Chicago.

Maurice Pérol, M.D., from the Cancer Research Center of Lyon in France, and colleagues examined the role of ramucirumab as a second-line therapy for NSCLC in a study involving 1,253 patients with stage IV disease. Participants had progressed despite standard platinum-based therapy and were randomized to receive ramucirumab plus docetaxel or placebo plus docetaxel.

The researchers found that the overall response rate was 22.9 percent in the ramucirumab group, compared with 13.6 percent in the placebo group (P < 0.001). The median progression-free survival was 4.5 months for the ramucirumab group, compared with 3.0 months for the placebo group (hazard ratio, 0.762; P < 0.0001). The median overall survival was 10.5 months for the ramucirumab group, compared with 9.1 months for the placebo group (hazard ratio, 0.857; P = 0.0235).

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“This is the first treatment in approximately a decade to improve the outcome of patients in the second-line setting,” Pérol said in a statement. “The survival improvement is significant because patients with advanced NSCLC typically have a very short survival time following second-line therapy.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. The study was funded by ImClone, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of ramucirumab.

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