A promising new treatment for lung cancer

This treatment reduces by 40% the risk of death at two years and by 37% that of recurrence for early cancers.

This is a hopeful study. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in France. Phase 3 of the study entitled CheckMate 816 was published on Monday, with results that should “change practices” on the management of this cancer, in particular the earliest phases, according to Pr Christine M. Lovly, oncologist at Vanderbilt University (USA).

Carried out on 358 patients, the study shows that the combination of traditional chemotherapy with immunotherapy, before surgery, significantly reduces the risk of death and recurrence. For this, the tumor must be well localized, operable and without metastases.

It reduces the risk of death by 40%

If immunotherapy already helps to slow the development of metastatic cancers, it is on earlier cancers that it is now proving its effectiveness. Combining immunotherapy and chemotherapy before surgery reduces the risk of death at two years by 40% and that of recurrence by 37%. In addition, in a quarter of patients, the tumor becomes non-cancerous after treatment. In comparison, this figure drops to 2% after chemotherapy alone.

“It’s a complete change in the evolution of the disease. The patients treated at Curie in 2017 are still alive five years later!”, Rejoices Dr Nicolas Girard, oncologist and pulmonologist at the head of the institute of Curie-Montsouris thorax, during a press conference reported by Le Figaro.

Survival without disease recurrence or progression is 31.6 months with this dual treatment, compared to 20.8 months with chemotherapy alone. At two years, 63.8% of patients in the first group had not seen the disease return, compared to 45.3% in the second group.

Already authorized in the United States

This treatment consists of combining three sessions of immunotherapy, boosting the immune system, with chemotherapy and thus has the advantage of being relatively short: two months in total. The heaviness of the treatment for the patient and its cost for the community are therefore also reduced. The key to success, however, is to detect the disease at an early stage in as many patients as possible.

Even before the publication of the study, this new neoadjuvant treatment received authorization from the American Federal Health Agency (FDA) for use in the United States.

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