In the last decade or so, the treatment for lung cancer has improved dramatically, particularly for patients who are in advanced stages of the disease. Any new development in cancer treatment has the capacity to save lives as new therapies are having a noteworthy effect on the survival for some patients. Advances in immunotherapy and targeted therapies have meant that healthcare providers are in a better position to diagnose and treat lung cancers. According to a latest report, the global lung cancer diagnostics market is projected to grow at over 7% CAGR through 2022. Key advances in the lung cancer treatment include, 

Immunotherapy

Our body's immune system recognizes and fights harmful bacteria, viruses and cancer cells to keep them from causing us harm. However, cancer can make it challenging for the immune system to recognize these harmful bacteria and viruses. Immunotherapy treatments support the immune system by marking cancer cells to let the immune system to find or by enhance its ability to fight cancer.

According to research, of 129 sufferers with earlier treated advanced non-small cell lung cancer, only 16% survived and with 1% i.e. one in six patients diagnosed with lung cancer remained alive for five-years subsequently when being treated with immunotherapy.

This advancement is also helping lung cancer patients (non-small cell) whose tumors over-express a protein called PD-L1. Approximately 25 to 30% of patients with non-small cell lung cancer have high levels of PD-L1 on their tumor cells.

The U.S. FDA has permitted numerous immunotherapy drugs for lung cancers that over-express PD-L1.

Of late, it sanctioned pembrolizumab for the treatment of patients with metastatic (a disease that has spread) non-small cell lung cancer whose tumors express PD-L1 and also who initially didn’t respond to chemotherapy. It has resulted in a 50% fewer chances of further cancer growth and a 40% decline in the possibility of death as compared to chemotherapy.

Although the treatments have rare mild or unpleasant side effects for example rashes and exhaustion or more serious or life threatening like a possibly serious infection in the intestines or lungs. But the physicians can handle these side effects by discontinuing the medications or substituting them to dull the treatment symptoms.

Targeted therapy

According to Dr. David Carbone, medical oncologist and director - The Thoracic Oncology Center, every single cancer is unlike and still studies are ongoing to analyze the genetic makeup of cancers. As certain sub categories of genes are very strong lead to cancers. The targeted therapies bound or overt alterations in cancer cells which help them grow.

Clinical senior lecturer, Dr. Alastair Greystoke, at Newcastle Hospitals, exclaims lung cancer as a particularly hostile disease with above 30000 patients dying only in the UK each year. Nivolumab is one of the major advancement, offering hope of extended or long-term survival, which has been extremely difficult.

In the tests, 12 out of the 16 patients who extended their life to five-years further received no treatment after discontinuing treatment with Nivolumab and continued without any sign of the disease developing. Although it is currently banned in England and Wales, patients of the vast majority of European countries including Greece are able to benefit from Nivolumab.

As lung cancer treatment makes inroads, healthcare providers are better positioned to offer advanced treatment options to patients. Further advancements can help in detecting and treating this disease more successfully.