Keytruda-chemo treatment improves lung cancer patients’ survival

Shim Hyun-tai  Published 2020.06.19  19:05  Updated 2020.06.23 12:02


A Yonsei Cancer Center research team has confirmed that the combination therapy of Keytruda and chemotherapy improved progression-free survival (PFS) of extensive-stage small cell lung cancer patients in phase 3 global clinical trials KEYNOTE-604.

According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, the number of lung cancer patients newly diagnosed in 2019 totaled 100,134, which has been increasing since 2015.

From left, Professors Cho Byung-chul, Kim Hye-ryun, Hong Min-hee, Lim Sun-min, and Ahn Byung-chul of the Yonsei Cancer Center

Small cell lung cancer takes up about 10 to 15 percent of all lung cancer cases. Small cell lung cancer has a high degree of malignancy, and cancer has already spread to the other lung or mediastinum through lymphatic or blood vessels when it is found.

Small cell lung cancer is known to have a poor prognosis because of its rapid growth and recurrence even after treatment. American Association for Cancer Research said that the five-year survival rate of small cell lung cancer patients is only six percent.

KEYNOTE-604 is a phase 3 global trial conducted at 140 institutions in 18 countries. The research studied 453 small cell lung cancer patients with an extended stage from May 2017 to July 2018.

The study result showed that the combination therapy of Keytruda with chemotherapy improved PFS more than the combination of placebo and chemotherapy.

After six months, Keytruda and chemotherapy group showed a 10.3 percent higher rate of PFS than the placebo group.

“We have identified an option for a new drug of small cell lung cancer patients who have not had any treatment choice other than cytotoxic cancer treatment for 30 years,” Professor Kim Hye-ryun at the Yonsei Cancer Center said.

Professor Kim added that the combination of Keytruda and chemotherapy improved the PFS, becoming a significant treatment option for small cell lung cancer.

The results of the study were published in the latest issue of a journal about cancer in the United States “Journal of Clinical Oncology” with an impact factor of 28.349.

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