Lung Cancer Patients Will Gain Extra Years Of Life Through Immunotherapy

by Jared Lewis April 18, 2018, 1:53
Lung Cancer Patients Will Gain Extra Years Of Life Through Immunotherapy

Pre-treating lung cancer patients with immune therapy drugs before they undergo surgery can help break down tumors, while limiting or even stopping the spread of cancer, NBC News reports. Small cell lung cancer is less common than non-small cell lung cancer, which affects up to 85 percent of all lung cancer patients, according to the American Cancer Society.

The study, which was presented yesterday (April 16) at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Chicago, was met with excitement by experts, who said the findings may change the way some patients with lung cancer are treated.

"That T-cells, activated by immunotherapy prior to surgery, can intercept rogue tumour cells throughout the body after the patient's operation and prevent the cancer from recurring may be a game-changer", said Dr Sung Poblete, president of Stand Up To Cancer, which funded the research.

The study results apply only to patients whose lung cancer does not begin in the squamous cells (or surface lung cell layer) and who also lack certain genetic mutations.

Pembrolizumab, sold under the brand name Keytruda, is an FDA-approved drug sold by a subsidiary of Merck & Company, Inc. that sponsored this study. It can be given for up to 24 months for those without disease progression, Merck said. In the majority of cases, the lung cancer returned after a year and a half of treatment, states NPR.

"This is great that there's new options and improved outcomes" for patients with lung cancer, Hellman said.

The study, which tested treatment effectiveness and side effects, included 616 patients at 118 medical facilities across the world. Median survival is met when 50% of the patients die.

They found the strategy was not only safe, but that 45pc of the patients responded so well there was little evidence of the cancer remaining upon follow-up examinations. The estimated survival after a year was 69 % in those taking the immunotherapy drugs compared to 49 % who only had chemotherapy.

Dr. Matthew Hellman of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY, who led the study, and others said it was a validation of the TMB biomarker. "The differences are big enough now that you know it's going to be a very big number and it's important to get this information to people so they can start using this regimen".

Two studies have found what appears to be a major breakthrough in the fight against lung cancer.

"The addition of pembrolizumab to chemotherapy resulted in significantly higher rates of response and longer progression-free survival than chemotherapy alone", her team writes in their paper. "I only treat lung cancer and I've been doing that for about 20 years". 'I've never seen such a big paradigm shift as we're seeing with immunotherapy, ' he said.

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