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ADVANCED LUNG-CANCER DRUG APPROVED

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The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug to prolong the lives of advanced lung-cancer patients.

The FDA approved Navelbine to treat non-small-cell lung cancer, the most common type of the deadly disease, that is too advanced for surgery or radiation to help.There is no cure for such advanced cancer, and Navelbine is the first new treatment approved specifically for these patients in 20 years, manufacturer Burroughs Wellcome Co. said.

Studies show Navelbine, a semi-synthetic derivative of the vinca flower family, prolongs survival by a median of two months. But in one study of 612 European patients, 30 percent who got Navelbine alone survived a year, as did 35 percent of patients who got Navelbine in combination with the cancer drug cisplatin, the company found.

Burroughs is studying whether Navelbine will also work on breast, prostate and ovarian cancers, along with its effect in combination with other new cancer drugs.