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–June 3 in Chicago.

Maurice Pérol, MD, 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% in the ramucirumab group, compared with 13.6% 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).

“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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