June 21, 2024

Doctors are the results of the trials showing that a new drug has stopped lung cancer from progressing longer than any other treatment in medical history.

Lung cancer is the world’s leading cause of cancer death, accounting for around 1.8 million deaths each year. Survival rates in those with advanced forms of the disease, where tumors have spread, are particularly poor.

More than half of patients (60%) diagnosed with advanced forms of lung cancer who took lorlatinib were still alive five years later with no progression of their disease, data presented at the world’s largest cancer conference showed. showed. The rate was 8% in patients treated with a standard medication, the trial found.

The results are the longest progression-free survival (PFS) outcomes ever recorded in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, the world’s most common form of the disease. They were presented on Friday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (Asco) in Chicago.

“To our knowledge, these results are unprecedented,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Benjamin Solomon, a medical oncologist at the Peter MacCallum. Cancer Center in Melbourne, Australia.

In the phase 3 trial, 296 patients with advanced forms of non-small cell lung cancer were randomly assigned to receive either lorlatinib (149 patients) or crizotinib (147 patients, of whom 142 ultimately received treatment).

Just over half of the patients were women. In about 25% of them, their lung cancer had already spread to the brain when the study began.

The participants all had ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer. Lorlatinib and crizotinib are both ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). ALK TKIs are targeted treatments that bind to the ALK protein found in ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer and stop the growth of tumor cells.

“Despite significant progress with new-generation ALK TKIs, the majority of patients treated with second-generation ALK TKIs will have disease progression within three years,” Solomon said.

“Lorlatinib is the only ALK TKI that has reported five-year progression-free survival, and even after this time, the majority of patients continue to control their disease, including control of disease in the brain.”

The five-year progression-free survival (PFS) rate was 60% in patients taking lorlatinib and 8% in the crizotinib group.

“You don’t need a magnifying glass to see the difference between these two drugs,” said Dr Julie Gralow, Asco’s chief medical officer. “Sixty percent five-year progression-free survival in non-small cell lung cancer is just unheard of.”

Dr David Spigel, the chief scientific officer of the Sarah Cannon Research Institute in London, a world-leading clinical trial facility specializing in new therapies for cancer patients, welcomed the findings. “These long-term data results are off the chart,” he said.

Most of the patients experienced some side effects. Treatment-related complications occurred in 77% of patients on lorlatinib and in 57% of patients on crizotinib. The most common side effects reported in the Pfizer-funded trial were swelling, high cholesterol and increased lipid levels.

Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, Prof Charles Swanton, who was not involved in the study, said the “groundbreaking” results would offer fresh hope for patients with advanced lung cancer.

“Despite advances in our understanding of the disease, controlling cancers that have spread can be incredibly challenging and there are limited treatment options for lung cancer,” he said.

“By showing the power of drugs that block cancer growth, this study could provide us with an effective way to stop cancer in its tracks and prevent it from spreading to the brain.

“The ground-breaking results show that more than half of the patients who took lorlatinib did not suffer a progression in their disease after five years. In contrast, more than half of the patients taking crizotinib experienced disease progression after just nine months.

“Research like this is essential to finding new ways to treat lung cancer and help more people survive longer.”

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