New Drug for Lung Cancer can Improve the Survival Rate Greatly

Scientists have found a drug called nivolumab more effective for non-small cell lung cancer, as it increases the survival time while bring less side effects than the traditional drug used for non-small cell lung cancer. The finding should be a mile stone on the way of finding better treatment for lung cancer.

Smoking should be the most common reason for all types of cancer. It’s surveyed that about half of the death caused by 12 main types of cancer were led by smoking. What’s worse is that lung cancer is the most direct type of cancer as a result of smoking. In the USA, about 27% of cancer deaths were lung cancer. The number is astonishing.

The current situation is that lung cancer patients have few choices for treatment when their bodies no longer respond to normal drugs or chemotherapies. Then docetaxel and nivolumab will be applied to extend the patients lives, among the two drugs docetaxel is more commonly used than the other.

Non-small cell lung cancer is a common type of lung cancer and about 80-90% lung cancers fall into this group. Scientists compared nivolumab with docetaxel regard of their effect on lung cancer treatment.

lung cancer

In total 582 patients with non-small cell lung cancer participated in the study. These participants were receiving chemotherapy or had gone through that process. They were grouped into two parts, one with 292 patients for nivolumab treatment and the other with 290 patients for docetaxel. All patients kept taking the two drugs when the condition went into the next stage or side effects appeared.

And the result was that 12 months after the beginning of the trial, 51% patients who received nivolumab survived while the rate for patients who took docetaxel was 39%. Furtherly, 18 months later the distinction remained and survival rate for the two group patients were seperatively 39% for nivolumab and 23% for docetaxel.

Besides, researchers also noticed that nivolumab could be more effective when a protein called programmed death ligand 1 was expressed to target tumors. And the protein could affect the objective response rate. Patients receiving nivolumab with the protein to be expressed had a much longer objective response period than patients who received docetaxel.

Another good character observed in the trial is that nivolumab brings fewer side effects than docetaxel, as well as slower deterioration speed, which enables a better life quality with the treatment of nivolumab.

With the finding, the treatment during or after first line for lung cancer patients may be adjusted according to their condition for a higher survival time and better quality of such patients.

The paper is available in The New England Journal of Medicine and titled as Nivolumab versus Docetaxel in Advanced Squamous-Cell Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer.