In fact, the results of the studies on the effect of immunotherapy against lung cancer are so significant that all lung cancer patients should be given this option first, according to lung cancer specialist Dr. Roy Herbst from the Yale Cancer Center. Patients in the placebo group whose disease progressed were allowed to switch into the immunotherapy group.
Instead of chemotherapy alone, patients with this cancer would be given immunotherapy early in the course of their treatment, along with chemotherapy, the new findings suggest.
In addition to the Stand Up To Cancer - Cancer Research Institute Cancer Immunology Translational Research Grant, this study was supported by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and the International Immuno-Oncology Network, LUNGevity Foundation, the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer & Prevent Cancer, Lung Cancer Foundation of America, the MacMillan Foundation, ECOG-ACRIN, the National Institutes of Health, the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation, the Commonwealth Foundation, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Support Grant, and the Johns Hopkins University Cancer Center Support Grant.
"We're going to have to find ways to pay for these drugs, but I think if we're more personalized in how we use them, I think we'll be even more effective, and hopefully with years of life saved, the cost could go down", said Herbst.
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In other words, once a cancer begins to develop, scientists look for strategic points where they can intervene and stop its growth.
Another study found that patients with advanced cancer fared better if they received Keytruda, an immune therapy from Merck, along with chemotherapy.
Dr. Jorge Gomez, a volunteer spokesperson for the American Lung Association and a medical oncologist and director of thoracic oncology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NY, explained that "about 220,000 patients are diagnosed with lung cancer a year in the United States". SU2C is now funding four Cancer Interception teams focusing on lung and pancreatic cancer. When Merck issued its preliminary 2018 full-year worldwide sales target of $41.2 billion to $42.7 billion, these latest results had not been shown in as much detail as this much more superior.
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. Median survival is met when 50% of the patients die.
Still, the drug has side effects - notably, about 5 percent of patients in the immunotherapy group experienced acute kidney problems, compared with 0.5 percent of patients in the control group. Yet, median survival among the study participants who received both immunotherapy and chemo has not yet been reached. "We eagerly continue to await longer-term follow-up of this study", he said. The drug alone is already approved to treat patients with high levels of those markers.