Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Lung cancer survival improves with immunotherapy, according to studies

Immune therapy key to extending lung cancer patients' lives: study Body's natural defences to be used against lung tumours
Johnnie Parks | 17 April, 2018, 20:51

Recalling a patient with advanced lung cancer whose tumor disappeared and has not grown back after finishing treatment 24 months ago, Gomez said, "I'm now becoming much more optimistic that if we can really find a way to flawless this treatment and to really figure out who are the patients who do the best and why that we may be able to do something like get rid of lung cancer for at least some patients".

In the study of 616 patients, pembrolizumab (Merck's Keytruda) combined with standard chemotherapy halved the risk of death or having the cancer compared to chemo alone after almost one year.

Immunotherapy, which harnesses the body's immune system to attack tumors, is known to improve survival in patients who have already been treated with chemo.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. About 1 year later, 16 of the patients were alive and well, and they didn't suffer from cancer anymore.

For non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer patients, median survival with chemotherapy alone is somewhere around 11 or 12 months, he said.

The odds of survival can greatly improve for people with the most common type of lung cancer if they are given a new type of drug that activates the immune system, along with the usual chemotherapy, a major new study has shown.

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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.

Dr. H. Jack West, an often skeptical cancer specialist at the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle, saw the data presented at the meeting in Chicago and called them "huge results." Drew Pardoll of Johns Hopkins, said that he will not use "use the term cure until you survive for 10 years". The results today are really a paradigm shift. Only, this time they do. "This notion of 'cancer interception" has the potential to stop cancer in its tracks'.

Dr Sung Poblete, president of Stand Up To Cancer, which funded this research, said: "It may be a game-changer".

A course of treatment with Keytruda can cost $150,000, so an expanded market could mean billions of dollars in additional revenue. If the results are indeed confirmed and we start exploring the scalability of the treatment, the price of the treatment also needs to be addressed.

The funding will establish the Center for Research to Optimize Precision Lung Cancer Screening (CPLS), one of three specialized cancer screening research centers under the Population-based Research to Optimize the Screening Process II (PROSPR II) initiative by the Healthcare Delivery Research Program at NCI. Aside from tobacco smoking, these cases are also influenced by a combination of genetic factors and exposure to radon gas, asbestos, second-hand smoke, or other forms of air pollution.

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