Cancer Australia launches Lung Cancer Framework

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A new study on immunotherapy Keytruda found that using the treatment, in combination with chemotherapy, dramatically increases the survival rates of patients with lung cancer.

Immuno-chemotherapy combo extends lung cancer victim's survival period, says the latest comprehensive study. The findings could prompt doctors to use immunotherapy as a first line of treatment for lung cancer, despite a hefty price tag of $13,000 per month. The study was published Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine. If you want to see long-term survival, you've got to give immunotherapy as soon as possible.

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 USA each year, said Gomez, who was not involved in the new study.

The Framework is the result of a four-year collaborative process involving cancer specialists and other health professionals, health service providers and consumers across Australia. One Yale patient who has survived for eight years took the drug for two years and has remained well ever since. Similarly, the new drug known as checkpoint inhibitors allows the immune system of the patient in order to destroy the deadly cancerous cells. 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.

Immune-boosting drugs given in conjunction with chemotherapy significantly extended life for people with the most common type of lung cancer, according to clinical trials.

For non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer patients, median survival with chemotherapy alone is somewhere around 11 or 12 months, he said.

The other, vehicle T therapy, genetically reprograms a patient's immune T-cells to find and destroy cancer. Median survival is met when 50% of the patients die.