Treatment combo improves lung cancer survival times, study finds

Treatment combo improves lung cancer survival times, study finds

Gandhi wondered, Would using immunotherapy earlier in treatment, alongside chemotherapy, do more for patients?

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 ideal 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".

One group of 400 patients received standard chemotherapy and the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab, while a smaller group of patients received chemotherapy.

The research could lead to new treatment regimens.


Roy Herbst, an oncologist at Yale Cancer Center said that most lung cancer patients now will be offered immunotherapy in some form much earlier than before.

Unlike traditional treatment, immunotherapies encourage the body's natural defences to target and destroy cancer cells, new research has revealed. According to the recently obtained finings, the medical experts suggest a new way to be used in treating lung cancer.

The odds of survival can greatly improve for people with the most common type of lung cancer if, along with the usual chemotherapy, they are also given a drug that activates the immune system, a major new study has shown. Herbst compares it with inflammation around a cut, which marshals the immune system into action, only in this case the wound being targeted is debris from dead cancer cells. And among those in the comparison group, who got a placebo and chemotherapy, 99 percent reported side effects.

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The trial that grabbed much of the spotlight Monday is a randomized effectiveness study that involved more than 600 untreated patients with advanced nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer - a common type of the disease. He was not involved in the pembrolizumab study. "I only treat lung cancer and I've been doing that for about 20 years". Researchers at Johns Hopkins and Memorial Sloan Kettering gave patients two doses of Opdivo - the first a month before surgery, the second two weeks before the operation - to try to stimulate anti-tumor activity and reduce the risk of relapse.

Experts said it was especially significant that the study showed that patients benefited from the Keytruda-chemo combination regardless of the levels of a protein, called PD-L1, found on their cancer cells.

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 was at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Chicago where the results were announced, and was asked to provide commentary afterwards.

"What we look at in these trials is overall survival - how long patients live - and we look at a number called the median survival - how long 50% of patients live", said Gomez. 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.

And for those with neither a lot of mutations nor a lot of immune cells, chemotherapy plus Keytruda seems to be the best choice, he said.

How much it ultimately will extend life isn't known - more than half in the Keytruda group are still alive; median survival was just over 11 months for the others.

Other companies have similar immunotherapy drugs, but Merck's product has an advantage for treatment of lung cancer because it already has data in hand to show its drug is effective in this setting.