A new immunotherapy drug appears to be more effective when compared to traditional chemotherapy in curing lung cancer, according to new clinical trial findings.
85% of lung cancers are non-small lung cancer. The study reveals that the new drug nivolumab cuts down a patient’s risk of death due to non-small lung cancer by 27% when compared with the patients who received docetaxel, a commonly used chemotherapy medication.
The study results will be showcased on Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, in Chicago.
The drug nivolumab helps those patients whose tumor cells carry a trait that makes it difficult for the immune system to recognize the cancer.
The study was carried out on 5832 patients with advanced non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The study showed that the patients taking nivolumab lived for about 12.2 months on average whereas patients taking docetaxel lived for about 9.4 months.
According to lead study author Dr. Luis Paz-Ares, a professor of medicine at Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre, Madrid, Spain, only 1 in 10 people experienced side effects due to nivolumab, compared to more than half patients taking docetaxel.
“While nivolumab appears to be more potent against this most common lung cancer, it is important to note that it is also far easier on patients compared to the standard second-line treatment, docetaxel” adds Paz-Ares.
“Immunotherapy is going to take treatment of cancer to a whole new level, and in lung cancer, it’s going to be paradigm-changing” admits Paz-Ares.
According to the study authors, lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide; it is also the leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States.
“Nivolumab is in a class of drugs called checkpoint inhibitors, which essentially prod the immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells” admits Dr. Gregory Masters, a lung cancer specialist at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center in Newark, Del.
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