New lung cancer treatment offered at cancer center

Pictured from left are Khaki Stelten, communications and development manager, Lung Cancer Initiative of N.C.; Heather Gill Hooper, executive director, Lung Cancer Initiative of N.C.; Dr. Sulochana Cherukuri and Dr. Paul Walker, hematology/oncology physicians, Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center.

Pictured from left are Khaki Stelten, communications and development manager, Lung Cancer Initiative of N.C.; Heather Gill Hooper, executive director, Lung Cancer Initiative of N.C.; Dr. Sulochana Cherukuri and Dr. Paul Walker, hematology/oncology physicians, Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center.

Clinical trials of a new drug therapy will soon be available at the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center for postmenopausal women with lung cancer.

The Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina – the state’s leading nonprofit organization supporting lung cancer research and education – recently awarded $25,000 to hematologist/oncologist Dr. Sulochana Cherukuri to study the effects of the drug anastrozole in female patients who have a certain type of metastatic lung cancer.

Emerging evidence suggests that some lung tumors grow more aggressively when the hormone estrogen is present, Cherukuri said. Her study involves adding this new drug – referred to as an aromatase inhibitor – to standard chemotherapy in order to disrupt the body’s production of estrogen.

“The thinking behind this is that less estrogen circulating in the body means there will be less fuel for the tumor,” Cherukuri said.

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality in women,” she added. “This trial is unique in that it is focusing on treatment of women with lung cancer. Adding aromatase inhibitors will change the course and outcome of aggressive biology and open new avenues for other combination therapies or sequential treatments for better outcomes in women with lung cancer.”

Cherukuri is one of four participants in the 2015-2016 Lung Cancer Initiative’s Lung Cancer Research Fellows Program, whose purpose is to further the development of local lung cancer care and research programs across the state.

The Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center provides outpatient cancer services through a collaboration between Vidant Health and the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. Through clinical trials, cancer patients have access to the latest, most promising treatments. The staff at Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center is a resource for patients wanting to learn how to manage their illness and take advantage of services available close to home. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 252-744-1888 or 800-223-9328.

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