New Drug ‘Lights Up’ Lung Cancer Cells During Surgery

To help surgeons with the exacting task of finding and removing lung cancer cells, and sparing healthy tissue, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a fluorescent imaging agent that "lights up" lung cancer cells for easier detection. The prescription medication, Cytalux, or pafolacianine, was first approved by the FDA in November 2021 to help detect ovarian cancer during surgery. It received permission for the additional use on Friday.

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Now, researchers cite its potential to improve the outcomes of thousands of lung cancer patients. Cytalux, which is given as an intravenous injection to adults prior to surgery, is designed to improve the ability to locate cancerous lung tissue that is normally difficult to detect during surgery, the FDA said. In a study of safety and effectiveness, of the 110 non-small cell lung cancer patients who received a dose of Cytalux and were evaluated under both normal light and fluorescent light during surgery. The FDA said 24% had at least one cancerous lesion detected that was not observed by standard visual inspection or by touch.

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