'We Are Going To Have Lung Cancer Patients Living Longer And Better:' A New Kind Of Cancer Treatment Is About To Change How We Treat The Disease

Immunotherapy, a new kind of cancer treatment that harnesses the body's immune system, is going mainstream.

In data presented Monday at the American Association of Cancer Research's annual meeting and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Merck found that a combination of the immunotherapy drug Keytruda and chemotherapy was able to extend the lives of people with a common form of lung cancer when compared with traditional chemotherapy, cutting the risk of death in half.

Meanwhile, Bristol-Myers Squibb found that its immunotherapy drug in combination with another managed to keep lung cancers that had a certain number of mutations from getting worse for a longer period than those treated with chemotherapy.

Shares of Merck were up 2.3% on Monday morning, while BMS was down 5.3%.

Unlike chemotherapy, which involves administering powerful drugs that kill both cancerous and healthy cells (most of which can repair themselves), immunotherapies are designed to help the immune system identify and knock out just the cancerous cells. Immunotherapy can have side effects, but they tend to look very different from those of the other treatments.

The results have big implications for lung cancer treatment, as they could make immunotherapy a part of the standard.

According to the American Cancer Society, there are about 234,000 new cases of lung cancer in the US each year. About 80% to 85% of them are non-small-cell lung cancer, on which these trials focused. Overall, lung cancer is the second-most common cancer among Americans, next to breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

Source : https://www.businessinsider.com/merck-bms-roche-lung-cancer-immunotherapy-data-2018-4

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