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Three new advances are set to transform lung cancer treatment – turning the tide on a disease that is often considered a death sentence. Someone in the UK is diagnosed with lung cancer every ten minutes – amounting to roughly 50,000 new patients each year – and just a quarter survive five years. Some 35,000 die of it annually, making it our biggest cancer killer.
But this weekend, doctors treating it had much to celebrate as a range of highly effective new therapies were unveiled at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago.
Over the past few decades, research has taken huge leaps forward in tackling other common forms of the disease, such as breast, prostate and bowel cancer – and, most recently, new targeted treatments for the ‘once hopeless’ melanoma skin cancer has seen patients effectively cured.
James Spicer, Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at King’s College London said, “When I became a doctor, no one wanted to specialize in lung cancer because – for most patients – it was a death sentence and we had no treatments to stop it.”
“Now new drugs mean that even patients whose cancer has spread around the body are living for ten, even 15, more years,” Spicer continued. “We’re at a point where we’re beginning to talk about cures for these advanced patients.”
A ground-breaking study found a high-tech drug, called pembrolizumab, which boosts the immune system and significantly slows the return of the disease.
The injection reportedly helps the immune system spot hidden cancer cells in the body.
However, it is currently only offered to NHS patients with advanced lung cancer.
The reports notes that patients on the new treatment were still cancer-free after nearly a year, while those who only received chemo were only free of the disease for four months.
“The data we have seen shows that, if you’re on this treatment, you’re half as likely to see your cancer return,” Spicer said.
“That is hugely positive for these patients, who can expect to live much longer as a result,” he continued. “The study also shows that, in some cases, researchers were unable to find any signs of cancer at all. These patients are effectively cured.”
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) June 3, 2023
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