the new treatment for lung cancer?

Combining immunotherapy and chemotherapy in preoperative treatment of lung cancer would reduce the risk of relapse and death by almost 40%, according to a new international study. What is this new treatment? Soon in France ? Update on this new anti-lung cancer treatment.

A new treatment for lung cancer teaming up immunotherapy and chemotherapy before surgery would reduce the risk of recurrence and death by almost 40% according to an international study published on April 11, 2022 in the New England Journal of Medicine. “The study was conducted in people with localized and operable non-metastatic lung cancer“says Pr Nicolas Girard, oncologist and pulmonologist at the Institut Curie who co-produced and presented these results at the congress of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in the United States on April 11. The treatment consists of combining three sessions of immunotherapy and conventional chemotherapy, before surgery, over a period of 2 months. Last March, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States approved this new treatment. “We hope to enable patients to access in France thanks to the request for early access” recognizes Professor Girard.

What is this new treatment?

The treatment tested in the CheckMate-816 study (phase 3) consisted of combine three courses of immunotherapy (with nivolumab, a monoclonal antibody developed by the Bristol Meyers Squibb laboratory) and chemotherapy before the operation (in order to reduce the size of the tumour) over a period of 2 months in 358 patients with non-metastasized non-small cell lung cancer (the most common form of lung cancer in France). The results showed that survival without disease recurrence or progression is 31.6 months with immunotherapy (nivolumab) + chemotherapy versus 20.8 months with chemotherapy alone. For 24% of patients in the study, there are no more cancer cells after treatment combining chemotherapy and immunotherapy. This figure drops to 2% after treatment with chemotherapy alone.” says Professor Nicolas Girard. “This new treatment reduces the risk of relapse by 37% and the risk of death by 43%. 83% of our patients are still alive 2 years after administration of this new treatment versus 71% with chemotherapy alone” he concludes.

What about side effects?

“We notice fewer surgical complications”

Adding nivolumab to neoadjuvant chemotherapy did not increase the incidence of adverse events nor did it hinder the feasibility of surgery. Treatment-related adverse events have occurred in 33.5% of patients in the nivolumab plus chemotherapy group and in 36.9% of those in the chemotherapy alone group“specify the researchers of the study.Patients only received 3 cycles of treatment [par immunothérapie]. Immunotherapy treatments often last at least a year. We can therefore expect less toxicitydeveloped by Pr Nicolas Girard. “We notice fewer surgical complications (42% versus 47%) since the size of the tumors decreased thanks to immunotherapy and chemotherapy in the preoperative approach.” In France, lung cancer is the third most frequent and it increases in women.

Of the two main types of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for up to 84% of diagnoses the majority of which (about 60%) are non-metastatic. Today, many patients with non-metastatic NSCLC are cured by surgery but 30% to 55% of them develop a recurrence.


– Press conference on the results of the CheckMate-816 study with Pr Nicolas Girard, Institut Curie, April 11, 2022

– “Neoadjuvant nivolumab plus chemotherapy in resectable lung cancer”, New England Journal of Medicine, April 11, 2022

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