Immunotherapy Increases Lung Cancer Survival Rate

Immunotherapy Increases Lung Cancer Survival Rate

Immunotherapy Increases Lung Cancer Survival Rate

Treating an aggressive type of lung cancer with a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy significantly improves patients' survival compared with chemotherapy alone, according to a study presented yesterday (April 16) at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR).

According to what doctors reported on Monday, it seems that immune therapy drugs might completely transform the usual treatment for lung cancer.

In both studies, the positive results were not dependent on cancer cell's levels of PD-L1, a marker of inflammation that has been commonly used with drugs like Keytruda and Opdivo to help predict patient responses, with higher PD-L1 levels believed to lead to greater efficacy.

The other shows patients who were given Opdivo were more likely to be cancer-free after a year.

Immunotherapy helps the human body fight off cancer through methods such as boosting the immune system, fighting tumor cells with the use of engineered immune system proteins, and so on.

After 10.5 months, 69 percent of patients treated with the immunotherapy and chemotherapy combo were still alive, compared to 49 percent of patients who received chemotherapy with the placebo.

In addition, the median "progression-free survival time", or the time patients went without their disease getting worse, was almost nine months in the immunotherapy group, compared with five months in the control group. More than 4 percent of that group developed lung inflammation and three patients died of it.

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Press briefing moderator Alice Shaw, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston, said results did establish a new standard of care for untreated, advanced nonsquamous NSCLC.

"I think the chemo combinations in nonsquamous lung cancer mean that 70% or 80% of patients are going to get immunotherapy in frontline", he added.

The Keytruda plus chemotherapy regimen was approved as an initial, or first-line, treatment for advanced NSCLC patients based on earlier data from a small study.

The results supported the hypothesis that chemotherapy has immunogenic properties that might augment the activity of immunotherapeutic agents and extend the benefits of an agent like pembrolizumab to patients who have tumors that do not express PD-L1, she added.

"We were able to achieve this study's promising results in a relatively rapid time-frame because of the collaboration made possible by our Stand Up To Cancer-Cancer Research Cancer Institute Immunology Dream Team grant", said senior author of the study Drew Pardoll, MD, PhD, director of Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and director of Cancer Immunology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The studies were sponsored by the drugmakers, and many study leaders and Herbst consult for the companies. "We eagerly continue to await longer-term follow-up of this study", he said.

In leading this study, Dr. Gandhi aimed to determine whether using immunotherapy earlier in treatment, combined with chemotherapy, would do more for patients. The median OS was 19.3 months in the Lynparza arm, compared to 17.1% for chemotherapy. "This is really a pivotal study. a new standard of care", said Shaw, who has no ties to the drugmakers. The median overall survival was 11.3 months in those who did not receive immunotherapy, whereas survival in the immunotherapy group was longer and the median has not yet been reached. These drugs are very, very interesting.

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