Pfizer Canada is pleased to announce that XALKORI® (crizotinib) is now available in Canada. Recently approved with conditions by Health Canada, XALKORI is an oral monotherapy for patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). XALKORI is Pfizer Canada's first example of personalized medicine for people with ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer.
Lung cancer has been one of the most difficult cancers to treat because symptoms typically do not appear until the disease has already reached an advanced stage. Even when symptoms appear, they are often mistaken for other health problems further delaying patients from receiving the care they may need.
As a percentage of all cancer deaths, lung cancer kills more Canadians (27%) than breast cancer (7%), colorectal cancer (12%) and prostate cancer (5%).
- In 2012, it is estimated that 25,600 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer
- An estimated 12,300 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer and 9,400 will die from it
- An estimated 13,300 men will be diagnosed with lung cancer and 10,800 will die from it.
Approximately 70 Canadians are diagnosed with lung cancer every day and 55 die of lung cancer every day.
"Little has changed in the way lung cancer has been treated in the past 40 years," says Dr. Normand Blais, Hemato-Oncologist at CHUM - Hôpital Notre-Dame in Montreal. "Previously lung cancer was considered a single disease. With the discovery of molecular biomarkers, such as ALK, we now know there are numerous types of lung cancers. New care options for these types of cancers can give hope to those who are or will be diagnosed with them."
Non-small cell lung cancer occurs when malignant cells form in the tissues of the lung. Research shows that 54 per cent of lung cancers have molecular biomarkers that drive tumour growth. An estimated three to five per cent of non-small cell lung cancers are ALK-positive, a genetic alteration discovered less than five years ago by Japanese researcher Dr. Hiroyuki Mano and his team.
In ALK-positive lung cancer, a normally dormant gene called ALK is fused with another gene, predominantly EML4. This abnormal gene fusion produces a protein that is believed to be a key driver of tumour development in cancers such as non-small cell lung cancer.
The recent discovery of ALK and other lung cancer biomarkers is the basis of an evolution in the approach to management of the disease. As Dr. Blais explains, "Oncologists, such as myself, now have the added responsibility of assessing other tumour traits with our colleagues and considering the requirement for additional molecular tests that may help select therapies for patients."