HealthDay News — The median overall survival (OS) from diagnosis for patients with stage IV anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is 6.8 years, according to a study published online Dec. 29 in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

Jose M. Pacheco, M.D., from the University of Colorado Cancer Center in Aurora, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed survival data from a cohort of 110 patients with stage IV ALK-positive NSCLC treated with an ALK inhibitor at a single institution.

The researchers found that nearly all 105 patients received crizotinib as their initial ALK inhibitor. 

During a median follow-up of 47 months, the median OS from diagnosis was 81 months. OS was not influenced by brain metastasis at diagnosis of stage IV disease or year of stage IV presentation. OS was worse with more organs with tumors at diagnosis of stage IV disease (hazard ratio, 1.49 for each additional organ with disease, including the central nervous system). There was a 7 percent relative decrease in risk for death for each additional month of pemetrexed-based therapy.

“What this shows is that with the development of good targeted therapies for ALK-positive lung cancer, even patients with stage IV disease can do well for many, many years,” Pacheco said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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