Promising Hope For Lung Cancer Patients

Immune therapy combined with chemo helped extend lung cancer patients’ lives in clinical studies

A new study on immunotherapy Keytruda found that using the treatment, in combination with chemotherapy, dramatically increases the survival rates of patients with lung cancer.

A total of 781,000 patients are diagnosed with lung cancer every year, giving it the highest incidence rate among China's malignant tumours, according to the National Cancer Center (NCC). Worldwide, lung cancer causes 1.69 million deaths annually.

"Ive been treating lung cancer for 25 years now, and Ive never seen such a big paradigm shift as were seeing with immunotherapy", said Dr. Roy Herbst, chief of Medical Oncology at the Yale Cancer Center.

Gandhi explained that the reason non-small cell lung cancer is so deadly is the existing chemotherapy drugs provide only limited survival benefits for patients. The combination treatment is a significant improvement, she said.

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

Two thirds were given immunotherapy drugs combined with chemotherapy while...

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Two promising new studies suggest combining Immune Therapy drugs with chemotherapy may improve survival.

They cost more than $100,000 a year, can have serious side effects and help only some patients, generally fewer than half.

"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.

After a median followup of 10.5 months, those in the immunotherapy group were half as likely to die. It is also possible, he said, that chemotherapy may kill some immune cells that interfere with the cancer-killing action of other parts of the immune system. Yet, median survival among the study participants who received both immunotherapy and chemo has not yet been reached. But now, they're finding if you change the timing, you can get better results.

Gomez believes it could be as high as double chemotherapy alone, "which would be very impressive", he said.

The Framework is the result of a four-year collaborative process involving cancer specialists and other health professionals, health service providers and consumers across Australia. These drugs are very, very interesting.

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