“It is a new day for lung cancer… For the first time, we will be offering immunotherapy to our lung patients,” commented Dr. Stephan Zimmerman of University Hospital in Switzerland. Dr. Zimmerman was stunned by the breakthrough trial showing that the immunotherapy drug Keytruda or pembrolizumab outperformed standard chemotherapy in a very specific group of patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Keytruda is a new cancer drug called an immune checkpoint inhibitor. Keytruda helps your own immune system to be released to fight your lung cancer. It’s just one of many drugs in the “personalized medicine” revolution.
KEYNOTE-024 STUDY SHOWS EXTENDED LIFE EXCPENTANCY
The breakthrough results come from the KEYNOTE-024 study published in the October 9, 2016 issue of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. In this landmark study of 305 patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, survival (without lung cancer progression) was extended from 6 months to 10 months. To look at the KEYNOTE-024 study another way, 70% of immunotherapy patients were alive at 1 year compared to adjust 54% of chemotherapy patients.
Although this breakthrough study is exciting, Dr. Jean Charles Soria from the Gustave Roussy Institute in France commented to Medscape, “… so the patients who are in this trial probably represent only 10% of the patients seen in clinical practice.” But if you happen to be one of these patients, Keytruda may just be the answer for you.
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM KEYTRUDA
Non-small cell lung cancer patients now eligible for the immunotherapy drug called Keytruda include those patients whose lung cancer biopsy showed no EGFR or ALK mutations but high levels of a cancer cell protein called PD-L1. So it is crucial that your cancer specialists order those tests on your biopsy.
If you have any questions about your lung cancer diagnosis or treatment options, please call me, Dr. Edward Hughes, at 855-Dayton 1.