The National Cancer Institute (NCI), led by Harold Varmus, MD, presented to Congress a scientific framework that lays out important steps needed to make advances in small cell lung cancer, one of the most lethal forms of the disease.
The report, entitled “Scientific Framework for Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)” was mandated by the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act of 2013, which requires the NCI to develop new research plans to provide strategic direction and guidance to accelerate progress against deadly or recalcitrant cancers.
Recalcitrant cancers are defined as those with five-year relative survival rates below 50% and a death toll of at least 30,000 people a year. The statute required NCI to give priority to pancreatic and lung cancers.
“Today marks an important day for the lung cancer community,” said Lung Cancer Alliance President and CEO Laurie Fenton-Ambrose. “Our long sought effort to devise a national strategy to improve lung cancer’s survival rate has taken a concrete step forward.”
While the report focuses on small cell lung cancer, one type of cancer arising in the lung, the scientific framework also brings research momentum to the reshaping of strategies for all lung cancers.
An estimated 15% to 20% of lung cancers are categorized as small cell, which usually grow faster and spread more quickly than cancers in the larger category of non-small cell lung cancers, such as adenocarcinomas and squamous cell lung cancers.
The report considered questions related to basic, translational and clinical research and offered recommendations to improve prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
The following five initiatives were recommended:
- Develop better research tools for the study of small cell lung cancer that optimize the collection of tumor tissue specimens representing distinct phases of SCLC and developing new tumor models that reflect the phase of SCLC found in the clinic.
- Develop focused, comprehensive genomic profiling to improve the basic understanding of the frequency, distribution and range of molecular abnormalities that exist both at diagnosis and following therapeutic relapse.
- Develop new diagnostic approaches for populations at high risk of developing SCLC.
- Facilitate novel therapeutic developments that focus on specific molecular vulnerabilities of SCLC.
- Define the mechanisms that allow for rapid response to initial treatment as well as the resistance to treatments.
Fenton-Ambrose said that Lung Cancer Alliance looks forward to working with NCI on specific details related to both the implementation and oversight of each initiative outlined in the small cell report.
She also noted that Lung Cancer Alliance will continue its partnership with NCI and other stakeholders to advance additional research priorities for other subtypes of the disease, such as the recently announced Lung-MAP initiative focused on squamous cell lung cancer, and ALCHEMIST, another NCI initiative looking at specific types of other non-small cell lung cancers.
Date: July 1, 2014
Source: Lung Cancer Alliance