Cancer Center Seeks Participants for Lung Cancer Treatment Trial

Groundbreaking Lung Cancer Trial Launched


Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital is now offering patients the opportunity to be part of an unprecedented clinical trial designed to help develop new treatments for an advanced form of lung cancer, the leading cancer killer of both men and women.

This is possible because the Cancer Center, LSU HSC-New Orleans and LSU HSC-Shreveport are part of a new effort called the National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program to bring advanced cancer treatments to Louisiana.

One of the first NCORP trials, known as Lung-MAP (Lung Cancer Master Protocol), is a multidrug, multiarm, biomarker-driven clinical trial for patients with advanced squamous cell lung cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma represents about a quarter of all lung cancer diagnoses, but there currently are few treatment options beyond surgery for the disease.

About 25 to 30 percent of all lung cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, according to the American Cancer Society. These cancers start in early versions of squamous cells, which are flat cells that line the inside of the airways in the lungs. They often are linked to a history of smoking and tend to be found in the middle of the lungs, near a bronchus.

“These are exciting times in oncology for scientists, pharmaceutical companies, oncologists and especially patients,” said Dr. Jack Saux, a medical oncologist and hematologist with Northshore Oncology Associates who also practices at the Cancer Center. “The new testing available to identify the complex genomic abnormalities in tumors has helped in the understanding of cancer-fighting drugs already in use and will promote the advancement of new agents targeting specific genetic drivers in the development and growth of many cancers. Oncologists have just gotten a taste of this type of treatment in recent years, and the S1400 Lung-MAP is the first in a new method of research in squamous cell lung cancer.”

Lung-MAP is a public-private collaboration and includes the National Cancer Institute part of the National Institutes of Health, five pharmaceutical companies (Amgen, Genentech, Pfizer, Astra Zeneca, and Astra Zeneca’s global biologics R&D arm, MedImmune) and Foundation Medicine. This innovative approach to clinical testing should improve access to promising drugs for patients and ease the significant recruitment and infrastructure burdens on researchers involved in traditional clinical trials.

“This groundbreaking protocol, developed through an unprecedented level of collaboration by investigative researchers, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and advocacy groups, will allow for more rapid assessment of patients and higher accrual rates to the study,” Dr. Saux said. “This study and others for similar cancers will translate the results from the research more quickly and efficiently to the clinic.”

This diverse, collaborative approach, with support from leading lung cancer advocacy organizations, helps to ensure that the needs of patients, clinicians, developers and regulators are all considered in the design and operation of the trial. The trial initially will test five experimental drugs. It is anticipated that between 500 and 1,000 patients will be screened per year for over 200 cancer-related genes for genomic alterations. The results of this test will be used to assign each patient to the trial arm that is best matched to their tumor’s genomic profile.

For more information on Lung-MAP, contact the Cancer Center Clinical Research Department at 985-276-6843 or

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital provides comprehensive cancer care that strives to positively impact the lives of cancer patients and their families on the Northshore. Services include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery, as well as patient navigation, clinical trials and free community screenings. Not only do patients have access to these vital cancer services and high quality cancer care, but these services are readily available close to home.