Hope for Lung Cancer Patients


A recent study indicates that a diuretic known as ethacrynic acid may help lung cancer patients get the maximum amount of benefit from lung cancer therapy erlotinib.


Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2013, chemotherapy agent erlotinib is a first-line therapy option to treat certain lung cancers. Specifically, erlotinib is designed to slow or stop cell growth in patients with non-small cell lung cancer who also carry a certain genetic mutation.

But erlotinib is only effective for so long. According to Worldwide Cancer Research, patients typically build up resistance to this form of chemotherapy as their bodies get used to the medication.

To further examine this resistance, researchers studied the resistant cells and found they were deficient in an antioxidant known as glutathione. The research team found that when the levels of glutathione were increased in cancer cells in a lab, the cells were less likely to be resistant to erlotinib. The resistance could even possibly be reversed.

The Solution

In a study involving mice, researchers discovered that ethacrynic acid, a diuretic commonly used to manage high blood pressure, could help increase glutathione levels in the mice. The study notes that mice given the diuretic along with erlotinib demonstrated a reversal of resistance to the erlotinib, indicating that simply administering it along with the simple blood pressure medication may maximize the effectiveness of this lung cancer treatment.

Screening Guidelines for Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is a disease that is difficult to detect until it has reached an advanced state. By the time symptoms such as chest pain, hoarseness, shortness of breath, and weakness appear, lung cancer may have already started to spread to other areas of the body.

Doctors may detect lung cancer early using a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan. According to the American Cancer Society, finding the lung cancer early may reduce an individual’s risk of dying from the condition. If you meet all three of the criteria listed below, you may be a candidate for this type of lung cancer screening:

  • Between the ages of 55 and 74
  • Have a 30 pack-year smoking history, meaning you smoked one pack daily for 30 years or two packs daily for 15 years
  • If you smoke or have quit smoking within the past 15 years

Talk with your doctor about whether a low-dose CT scan is right for you.

If you or someone you know is in need of cancer support, please call Peyton Anderson Cancer Center, Navicent Health at 478‑633‑8537 or visit www.NavicentHealth.org.

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