Dr. Carbone on the Impact of Immunotherapy in Lung Cancer

David P. Carbone, MD, PhD, discusses the impact of immunotherapy on lung cancer.

David P. Carbone, MD, PhD, director of the Thoracic Oncology Center; a professor in the Division of Medical Oncology; co-leader of the Translational Therapeutics Program; and Barbara J. Bonner Chair in Lung Cancer Research, at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center–James, discusses the impact of immunotherapy on lung cancer.

The outcome of studies evaluating immunotherapy has transformed the prospects for lung cancer in the past few years, says Carbone. Patients used to be told that metastatic lung cancer was incurable but treatable. Now, studies are demonstrating that some of the early patients who were treated with this approach 5 to 7 years ago are still free of relapse, which is an incredible advance over the past few years, says Carbone. Approximately 20% of patients treated in the first-line setting are alive and free of disease progression at 5 or 6 years, and that was never seen before with chemotherapy.

With the chemoimmunotherapy and double immunotherapy approaches that are currently under exploration, the survival of these patients may be improved even further, Carbone adds. Hopefully, markers for patients can be identified to select them better for this treatment, similar to what the field has seen with targeted therapies. Instead of 20% of patients being alive at 5 years, perhaps the field will see 80% of patients alive at that time point because of better patient selection; this could also save patients unnecessary toxicity and costs of ineffective therapies, concludes Carbone.

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