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Immunotherapy increases survival of Lung Cancer Patients

A study has shown that the odds of survival for lung cancer can improve if they get treated with chemotherapy alongside the new drug that activates the immune system. Medical experts say that the findings should allow doctors to administer immunotherapy for lung cancer as early as possible. Immunotherapy has been successful on some cancers using checkpoint inhibitors to kill malignant cells.

During a study carried out on patients with an advanced stage of non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer were given pembrolizumab, a checkpoint inhibitor together with pemetrexed, a chemotherapy drug.  The combination treatment was a success and immunotherapy with chemotherapy was approved as a first-line treatment for lung cancer.

In another study, 616 patients aged 34 to 84 years with advanced lung cancer were randomly picked to receive combined chemotherapy and immunotherapy, or chemotherapy with placebo, with two-thirds receiving the combination of immunotherapy. Their tumors were lacking in certain mutations which would have made them receive other targeted treatments.

  • After monitoring them for 10.5 months, the patients in the group that received immunotherapy were half as likely to die. The survival of those in the immunotherapy group was longer, and the median has not been reached.
  • The medial overall survival in those who did not receive immunotherapy was 11.3 months.
  • The estimated survival was 49.4% at 12 months in those who did not receive immunotherapy and 69.2% in the group that received immunotherapy.
  • Some patients who received immunotherapy had kidney problems and immune-related adverse effects and side effects that would likely have them stop treatment.

The study showed a magnitude of benefits of early analysis and the involvement of immunotherapy. The survival difference showed that treating lung cancer had improved compared to the way it was done before and it will even get better with more new approaches and improvements. When patients were tested for a biomarker to predict whether pembrolizumab was helping, those with high levels of the biomarker fared better with immunotherapy than those with low levels. It was suggested that immunotherapy application would lead to long-term survival.




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