Cancer Australia launches Lung Cancer Framework

Laverne Higgins
April 17, 2018

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

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.

Immunotherapy works by harnessing the body's immune system to attack tumors.

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

Cancer patients should be given immunotherapy as the first line of treatment following the results of "game-changing" trials, charities say.

The series of studies was yesterday presented at the American Association of Cancer Research in Chicago. Many times, they give it after chemotherapy has failed. The report shows that 3.8 million people were diagnosed with cancer each year and more than 2.2 million patients died.

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In another study, the combination of Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo and Yervoy worked better than chemo alone for delaying the time until cancer worsened in advanced lung cancer patients whose tumors have many gene flaws, as almost half do, AP reported.

Notably, the incidence rate of lung cancer among non-smoking Chinese females is rising comparatively faster compared with those in western countries.

After 18 months, recurrence-free survival was 73 per cent compared to the clinical average of around 50 per cent. 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. 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.

The other, auto T therapy, genetically reprograms a patient's immune T-cells to find and destroy cancer.

The estimated survival at 12 months was 69.2 percent in the group that received immunotherapy, and 49.4 percent in those who did not.

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