Gefinitib Iressa

Gefinitib Iressa

This patient-friendly article is about chemotherapy drug, Gefinitib (Iressa) which is not yet licensed for use in the UK, but is a possible treatment for a number of different types of cancer, including bowel, breast, lung, head and neck ovary, prostate, bladder and kidney. It has been trialled mainly with non-small cell lung cancer). Along with Erlotinib (Tarceva) it is part of a relatively new class of drugs that is often referred to as immunotherapy. Unlike standard chemotherapy drugs, this new class specifically targets a gene in tumours called the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). 

10% of patients who take the drug improve although those improvements can be really significant. This has prompted the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to question whether it should remain on the market. ’Why does it work so well, but only for the few?’ is the crucial question. Now two groups of researchers working independently at Harvard hospitals have discovered that people who respond to Gefinitib have common mutations in their tumours whereas people without the mutations do not respond to the drug.

Approved by

the Medical Board. 

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The FDA approved the drug for patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. Next stop is to develop a test to understand those patients who might best respond those with the all-important gene. Side effects are very particular to the individual and are not insignificant. Lancet Oncology 2006 reports that in Phase III trials patients who had two doses of chemotherapy then took Gefitinib may just as well have had good supportive care for non-small cell lung cancer. Little difference in survival was noted.  

Go to: 10 ways to improve your chemotherapy success and reduce side-effects

Other articles that you may find interesting are:

  1. A diet for Chemotherapy
  2. Immunotherapy overview
  3. A to Z Guide to Complementary Therapies

Go to: Return to the CANCERactive drug list


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