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New On-line Tool Can Help Doctors Find Best Treatment Option for NSCLC and Mesothelioma Patients

More and more often, doctors rely on information found on the internet, through smartphone apps, and from colleagues via social media sites to determine a treatment option for patients with rare diseases, such as mesothelioma, and other cancers.  The complexity of the diseases demands that physicians do thorough research before developing a treatment plan.

Although patients with pleural mesothelioma, a rare cancer found in the lining of the lungs caused by asbestos exposure, do not have many treatment options available to them, correctly assessing the stage, histological subtype and characteristics of the disease, overall health of the patient, family genetic traits, and many other variables may open up more options. Finding the best available therapy is critical to improving patient survival.

Now, Clinical Care Options, a Reston, Virginia company dedicated to the development of interactive medical education programs for healthcare professionals, has developed an on-line tool for oncologists to take the guessing game out of developing an effective cancer treatment plan.  The tool is designed to help physicians guide their choice of first-line and maintenance therapy for patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

According to a press release from the company, “this online decision-support tool provides physicians with expert recommendations on first-line and maintenance therapy for NSCLC based upon specific patient and tumor characteristics.”

To build the algorithms for treatment choices in the tool, the company had lung cancer experts review cancer case studies and make a treatment decision based on permutations of specific tumor variables including histology, patient age, and smoking history.  The tool was then built around these expert recommendations.

Biomarkers included in the tumor variables included the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene, for which crizotinib has been found to be an effective drug, and mutations of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) protein gene which is found in some mesothelioma tumors and causes the cells to divide and spread.

The tool’s effectiveness was confirmed after 23% of clinicians changed their treatment choice after using the tool, and 50% indicated that the tool served to confirm their treatment choice.  Treatment guidance includes chemotherapy options, such as a cisplatin/pemetrexed combination or cisplatin/gemcitabine, the number of chemotherapy cycles, when to conduct another scan, and how long to wait before beginning second-line therapy.

“With the growing number of treatment options and factors for individualizing treatment there is a clear need for tools to support the decision making process in NSCLC and many other cancers,” said Dr. David R Gandara, MD, first author of the poster and Professor of Clinical Medicine at University of California Davis Cancer Center in Davis, California. “This study’s findings indicate that such online tools can affect clinicians’ treatment decisions and may improve patient care.”

Information about the tool will be presented in a poster session entitled: “Development and Utilization of an Online Tool to Guide Choice of First-line and Maintenance Therapy for Patients With Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC”) this week during the 2012 Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology in Chicago, IL.

Lung cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States and afflicted 157,300 Americans in 2010, according to federal statistics.  Close to 3,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.

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Nancy Meredith is a blog and web content writer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the Information Technology industry. She has been writing about Mesothelioma for 4 years. Follow Nancy on Google+

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