Immuno-Chemotherapy Combo Extends Lung Cancer Victim's Survival Period

17 April, 2018, 11:24 | Author: Sherman Richardson
  • Immune therapy combined with chemo helped extend lung cancer patients’ lives in clinical studies

Using the immunotherapy resulted in "significantly longer overall survival and progression-free survival than chemotherapy alone", the study found.

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.

Patients undergoing the new type of treatment - which harnesses the immune system so it targets and destroys only cancer cells - typically lived longer with fewer reports of the cancer returning. The most common side effects were nausea, anemia and fatigue and in both groups about 65% of patients experienced severe side effects. It's called immunotherapy. Doctors have been using Keytruda and Opdivo for several years treating lung cancer.

Chemotherapy may no longer be the standard cancer treatment after the publication of a series of studies by the American Association for Cancer Research in Chicago.

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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.

Non-squamous lung cancer patients make up about 80% of all the non-small cell lung cancers, so that amounts to over 150,000 patients in the U.S. each year, said Gomez, who was not involved in the new study. I lead the Yale lung team. Median survival is met when 50% of the patients die.

But patients in the immunotherapy group had more kidney problems, more immune-related adverse events and were more likely to stop treatment because of side effects. 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 estimated survival rate after 12 months for those that just received chemotherapy was 49.4 percent - in other words, just under half of those patients survived for a year.

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