Immune therapy scores big win vs. lung cancer in study
CHICAGO | For the first time, a treatment that boosts the immune system greatly improved survival in people newly diagnosed with the most common form of lung cancer.
It’s the biggest win so far for immunotherapy, which has had much of its success in less common cancers.
In the study, Merck’s Keytruda, given with standard chemotherapy, cut in half the risk of dying or having the cancer worsen, compared to chemo alone after nearly one year.
The results are expected to quickly set a new standard of care for about 70,000 patients each year in the United States whose lung cancer has already spread by the time it’s found.
Another study found that an immunotherapy combo — the Bristol-Myers Squibb drugs Opdivo and Yervoy — worked better than chemo for delaying the time until cancer worsened in advanced lung cancer patients whose tumors have many gene flaws.
But the benefit lasted less than two months on average and it’s too soon to know if the combo improves overall survival, as Keytruda did.