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‘Game-changing’ immunotherapy cancer drug boosts survival rates five-fold

This article was taken from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/09/10/game-changing-immunotherapy-cancer-drug-boosts-survival-rates/

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An ew immunotherapy cancer drug boosts survival rate five-fold, scientists from Yale have found.

Patients with advanced lung cancer were far more likely to be alive after five years, compared with those given standard chemotherapy.

The immunotherapy drug nivolumab, which is used for several cancers, works by blocking a protein that stops the immune system attacking cancer cells.

The drug helps the patient’s own immune system find and destroy cancer cells as they spread.

New research presented at the World Conference on Lung Cancer in Barcelona shows the drug can have a powerful effect in extending survival for people with advanced lung cancer who have few treatment options.

It is the first time clinical data has been presented showing how patients are faring after five years on the medicine.

Cutting cancer risks | 10 recommendations

  1. Be a healthy weight. Keep your weight within the healthy range and avoid weight gain in adult life
  2. Be physically active. Be physically active as part of everyday life – walk more and sit less
  3. Eat a diet rich in wholegrains, vegetables, fruit and beans. Make wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, and pulses (legumes) such as beans and lentils a major part of your usual daily diet
  4. Limit consumption of ‘fast foods’ and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars. Limiting these foods helps control calorie intake and maintain a healthy weight
  5. Limit consumption of red and processed meat. Eat no more than moderate amounts of red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb. Eat little, if any, processed meat
  6. Limit consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. Drink mostly water and unsweetened drinks
  7. Limit alcohol consumption. For cancer prevention, it’s best not to drink alcohol
  8. Do not use supplements for cancer prevention. Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone
  9. For mothers: breastfeed your baby, if you can. Breastfeeding is good for both mother and baby
  10. After a cancer diagnosis: follow our recommendations, if you can. Check with your health professional what is right for you

Source: World Cancer Research Fund

Research on 854 patients, presented by Dr Scott Gettinger of Yale Comprehensive Cancer Centre in the US, showed that those on the drug were five times more likely to still be alive after five years than those on conventional chemotherapy (docetaxel).

Five-year survival rates were 13.4 per cent for people on the drug compared to 2.6 per cent for those on chemotherapy. And eight per cent of those given immunotherapy had not seen the disease progress – compared with none of those on conventional treatment.

Nivolumab is currently available through the NHS Cancer Drugs Fund for both previously treated squamous non-small-cell lung cancer and for previously treated non-squamous non-small-cell lung cancer.

There are around 47,200 new lung cancer cases in the UK every year, and it is the UK’s third most common cancer.