Surviving Lung Cancer through Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy in advanced non-small cell lung cancers has helped to extend the overall and progression-free survival in some patients without compromising their quality of life. It forces the immune system to control the disease by fighting cell proliferation. Experts have confirmed that patients who have undergone immunotherapy for NSCLC have survived for longer.
The overall five-year survival rate for advanced non-small cell lung cancer has been less than 5%. But today, a growing proportion of NSCLC patients have lived longer than five years. This indicates that there is a possibility of extending the lives of lung cancer patients using immunotherapies. A randomized trial showed that an average number of patients treated with a single immune therapy (nivolumab) remained alive five years later.
During a study:
- The patients subjected to a trial showed an improvement in survival with more than three years of follow-up with the inhibitor pembrolizumab. During the time of treatment, the patients’ tolerability towards the monotherapy regimen was high. The duration of response was high too, with patients who received pembrolizumab for two years stabilizing with no need for additional therapy.
- Some patients, after getting treatment for two years, also received pembrolizumab as a second course after progression of the disease. This means the cancer cab stabilize after re-exposure.
- When used alongside chemotherapy in patients with stage IV squamous cell NSCLC, immunotherapy, specifically atezolizumab inhibiting agent, would benefit patients.
- Although immunotherapy may not eradicate the tumor in some stages of NSCLC, the disease can be controlled in some cases as seen in this trial.
Researchers may not have identified the features that would help to predict which patients responded to anti-PD-1 therapy during the trial. But they still managed to know the effect of immunotherapy in patients with tumors that had high PD-1 expression.