A recent study has concluded that immunotherapy is a more effective option for the treatment of patients with lung cancer than chemotherapy. Immunotherapy for lung cancer treatment has demonstrated a substantial effectiveness in a wider population of patients, especially those suffering from an advanced stage of cancer.
The research involved more than 1,000 people with non-small-cell lung cancer. Clinical trials were conducted to compare the survival rate of the patients treated with immunotherapy against a chemotherapy drug called Docetaxel. The research confirmed that the patients treated with immunotherapy lived longer compared to those who were treated with Docetaxel.
“This research has provided hopes for improving the recovery of lung cancer patients while avoiding the toxic side effects caused by chemotherapy,” said Garon, an associate professor of oncology and hematology at the David Geffen School of Medicine.
It was also found that the tumor is reduced considerably in the patients who received immunotherapy. Additionally, the rate of serious side effects and toxicity was lower in the patients receiving immunotherapy.
Lung cancer is a very common cause of cancer death across the world. Non-small cell lung cancer comprises of about 85 percent cases of all lung cancers.
Immunotherapy involves the use of medicines or agents that stimulate the patient’s immune system to identify and destroy the cancer cells more effectively.
Immune system also has the ability to prevent itself from attacking the normal cells in the body. It achieves this by using the “checkpoints” or the molecules on the immune cells, which are turned on or off for initiating the immune response. Sometimes, cancer cells use these molecules to avoid being detected and attacked by the immune system. The chemotherapy drugs target these checkpoints and thereby ensure that the normal, healthy cells are not affected.
Immunotherapy for lung cancer also targets a protein on the T cells of the immune system. By blocking this protein, the immunotherapy drugs help to boost the immune response of the body against the cancer cells. This results in the shrinkage of the tumors or slow down their growth.
“By continuing to expand and refine the selection of patients who can benefit from this form of therapy, the way the lung cancer patients are treated can be changed for a positive outcome,” said Garon. “This study shows that immunotherapy leads to a superior clinical outcome and a favorable side effect profile compared to the traditional therapies.“
Recent advances in understanding the body’s immune response to the cancer cells are expected to help in the development of more effective immunotherapeutic agents. It is also expected that a considerable improvement in the lung cancer patients can be achieved by combining chemotherapy with immunotherapy.