Immunotherapy improves lung cancer long-term survival

Lung cancer

A global study, led by University College London (UCL) and University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and sponsored by Roche, has shown that the cancer immunotherapy atezolizumab significantly improved the overall survival of advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, when compared to single-agent chemotherapy.

For the fittest patients with advanced stage NSCLC, first-line immunotherapy with or without platinum-based doublet chemotherapy (PDC) is now established as the standard of care treatment.

However, more than 40% of advanced stage NSCLC patients are in poor health and are often elderly with significant medical co-morbidities. Treatment with standard PDC is not suitable for many of these patients because of poor tolerance or toxicity concerns, leaving them with limited treatment options.

This is the first reported randomised Phase III trial of first-line immunotherapy treatment with atezolizumab (also known as Tecentriq) in an advanced NSCLC population deemed unfit for standard platinum-chemotherapy.

The study showed that atezolizumab significantly improved overall survival and resulted in a clinically meaningful long-term survival benefit, with twice as many patients (24%) who were treated with atezolizumab remaining alive at two years compared to those treated with chemotherapy (12%).

Professor Siow Ming Lee (UCL Cancer Institute and UCL Hospitals), who chaired the study Steering Committee and conceptualised the study design, said: “For over two decades, clinical trials have failed to provide significant therapeutic benefits to older NSCLC patients with poor health who are unfit for standard platinum doublet chemotherapy.

“IPSOS is the first randomised trial to show that immunotherapy treatment with first-line atezolizumab treatment significantly improves overall survival compared to single-agent chemotherapy for these poor prognosis patients, with twice as many remaining alive at two years. The treatment also resulted in stabilised or improved health-related quality of life measures, and no new safety concerns were identified.”

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