Studies find new ways to use immune-boosting lung cancer drugs

Research suggests that many more lung cancer patients may benefit from treatments that boost the immune system

The five key Principles for improving lung cancer outcomes have been well established: patient-centered care; timely access to evidence-based pathways of care; multidisciplinary care; co-ordination, communication and continuity of care; and data-driven improvements.

Doctors have found new ways to use some immune-boosting drugs to fight lung cancer.

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.

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.

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

Gandhi said chemotherapy alone had only a "modest benefit", and could add only a few months of life, with most patients surviving about a year or less.

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

For patients receiving the combined therapy, the chance of death or progression of their cancer was reduced by 48% compared to the patients receiving only chemotherapy. "We have patients on these immunotherapies are alive more than eight years".

After a median followup of 10.5 months, those in the immunotherapy group were half as likely to die.

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

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

The findings should change medical practice immediately, cancer experts say: Patients with this type of lung cancer should receive an immune-activating drug, also called immunotherapy, as early as possible after the diagnosis is made.

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