Some new hope for many patients with Lung cancer.
"Non-small cell lung cancer is actually the leading cause of cancer death in the world even though it's not the most common cancer", said Dr. Leena Gandhi, lead investigator of the study and director of the thoracic medical oncology program at Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health. In a second study, doctors found that giving Opdivo to advanced lung cancer patients before surgery helped shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. They remove a cloak that some cancer cells have that hides them from the immune system. They were picked at random to receive either chemotherapy plus immunotherapy, or chemotherapy plus a placebo, with two-thirds receiving the combination that included immunotherapy.
In the study, Merck's Keytruda, given with standard chemotherapy, cut in half the risk of dying or having the cancer worsen.More news: OPCW continuing mission into alleged Douma gas attack despite air strikes
"It's pretty wonderful times to have so many positive studies at once", added Matthew Hellmann, a lung cancer specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, who led one of the studies.
The median time until cancer worsened was about 7 months on the immunotherapy drugs versus 5.5 months for chemo. In it, 616 patients were given chemo and some also received Keytruda. According to the recently obtained finings, the medical experts suggest a new way to be used in treating lung cancer.
In Forde's small study of patients with early-stage disease, patients who received Opdivo around the time of surgery fared much better than those who received chemotherapy alone.More news: Philly DA wants Meek Mill's 2007 conviction thrown out
"What we look at in these trials is overall survival - how long patients live - and we look at a number called the median survival - how long 50% of patients live", said Gomez. I lead the Yale lung team.
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. By killing some tumor cells, chemotherapy could pop open the bags, release the contents and help immune cells unleashed by the checkpoint drugs to identify their prey.
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.More news: The New Gmail Comes With Self-Destructing Emails
And for those with neither a lot of mutations nor a lot of immune cells, chemotherapy plus Keytruda seems to be the best choice, he said. The drugs are given through IVs and cost about $12,500 a month.