For lung cancer patients, in whom surgery is not possible, a monoclonal antibody was found that would prolong survival. Durvalumab is the alternative to chemotherapy. For stage III non-small cell lung cancer patients in whom surgery is not possible, the durvalumab monoclonal antibody offers a “clinically significant” benefit, which translates into both survival overall and progression-free survival for patients who have had good results after chemo-radiotherapy treatment. This is what emerges from the Pacific Phase 3 study, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (Asco) Congress. Five-year overall survival is 42.9% for durvalumab-treated patients compared with 33.4% for placebo-treated patients after chemo-radiotherapy. Median overall survival was 47.5 months for those who took durvalumab compared with 29.1 months for those who took placebo.
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An alternative to chemo-radiotherapy
After treatment for up to one year, 33.1% of durvalumab-treated patients did not progress five years after enrollment compared with 19% for placebo. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death in Italy. Of the more than 40,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed last year, about 80-85% can be classified as’ non-small cells. Today, one in three patients with this disease has stage III disease at diagnosis, a condition in which, in most cases, the tumor is no longer resectable. Prior to the approval of durvalumab, chemo-radiotherapy was the only treatment option available for these patients for decades.
“The data presented confirm, even after a 5-year follow-up, the potential of immunotherapy as a therapeutic approach in the treatment of unresectable stage III lung cancer” comments Giorgio Scagliotti, director of the Department of Medical Oncology of the University of Turin. For Umberto Ricardi, director of the Department of Oncology and of the university complex of radiotherapy of the City of Health and Science of Turin, “the locally advanced stage of non-small cell lung cancer is a complex and clinically heterogeneous setting, where however in in the past only 15-25% of patients survived five years after chemo-radiotherapy ».