Immunotherapy Drug Significantly Boosts Odds Of Survival For Lung Cancer Patients

Faith Castro
April 17, 2018

The NCC said in its recent report that lung cancer leads the cancer incidence table for male patients and ranks second among females, but the mortality of lung cancer is highest for both sexes, Global Times reports.

Two promising new studies suggest that combining immune therapy drugs with chemotherapy may improve survival.

Keytruda was approved past year as an initial treatment with chemo for the most common form of advanced lung cancer, but doctors have been leery to use it because that was based on a small study that did not show whether it prolongs life.

Results of the study are expected to change how 70,000 patients are treated each year in the United States whose lung cancer has already spread by the time it is found, according to AP. He said that tumor cells were like bags of hidden proteins that, if exposed, the immune system could use as targets to find and attack cancer. A year and a half after treatment, the disease had returned in three-quarters of patients with the new treatment.

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The study estimates that one year after treatment, 69 percent of patients who received the immunotherapy drug in addition to chemotherapy would still be alive, compared with 49 percent of people who received chemotherapy alone.

That's a big difference for such an advanced cancer, said Dr. Alice Shaw, a Massachusetts General Hospital lung cancer expert and one of the conference leaders. In the study, Merck's Keytruda, given with standard chemotherapy, cut in half the risk of dying or having the cancer worsen, compared to chemo alone after almost one year. He was not involved in the pembrolizumab study.

They cost more than $100,000 a year, can have serious side effects and help only some patients, generally fewer than half. "These T cells can intervene, stopping errant tumor cells from forming new metastases, preventing recurrence", says Stand Up To Cancer President and CEO Sung Poblete, PhD, RN. SU2C is now funding four Cancer Interception teams focusing on lung and pancreatic cancer. Immunotherapy has been making steady gains against a number of cancers.

Historically, chemotherapy or chemoradiotherapy, is given to lung cancer patients to shrink a large, non-metastasized tumor, and in the past, immunotherapeutic agents have been administered after surgery with limited results. By killing some tumor cells, chemotherapy could pop open the bags, release the contents and help immune cells - unleashed by the checkpoint drugs - to identify their prey. The report shows that 3.8 million people were diagnosed with cancer each year and more than 2.2 million patients died. Recurrence-free survival at 18 months was 73 percent, and the median recurrence-free survival had not been reached at the time of data analysis. "We are hopeful that this breakthrough, and the follow-up clinical studies already underway, will translate into a new standard of care".

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