Health Beat: Cancer killing combo? New lung cancer treatment

Published: Jun 10 2013 12:49:19 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 10 2013 05:44:42 PM EDT
Cancer killing combo

It's the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women. Not colon, not breast, not prostate, but lung cancer. Each year, lung cancer strikes more than 220,000 people and kills more than 160,000.  

Doctors hope that adding something to chemotherapy could help beat the disease.

"I was devastated," said Kimberly Thomas, who was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Thomas had small cell carcinoma, a very aggressive form of lung cancer, but something new could help her overcome it.

Dr. Wahid Hanna, of the University of Tennesse Medical Center, is helping investigate how adding immune-boosting anti-bodies to chemotherapy drugs could help patients like Thomas.

“If you have a cell that is requiring oxygen and you interfere with the nutrition, you interfere with the way it gets the cells to grow, that’s it it’ll die," Hanna explained.

The antibody attaches itself to cancer cells, making the cancer vulnerable to being destroyed by a patient’s own immune system. 

After six rounds of the chemotherapy, combined with the anti-body, he said he saw a dramatic change.  He said the tumor in Thomas' lung has shrunk by more than half.

“It makes me feel ecstatic that there’s hope," said Thomas. 

She and her daughter hope the tumor will eventually disappear.

After patients complete the combination treatment, they can choose to continue taking the antibody without the chemotherapy.

Patients across the U.S. and around the world are currently being recruited to take part in the phase two study. You can find out how to participate at ClinicalTrials.gov.

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DOWNLOAD and VIEW the full-length interview with Dr. Wahid Hanna about a new lung cancer treatment