Researchers reported a number of important findings in lung cancer treatment at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology:

Immunotherapy prior to surgery found to be beneficial in the treatment of NSCLC non-small cell lung cancer

The results of two trials showed there was clinical benefit in giving immunotherapy prior to surgery in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium LCMC3 trial evaluated atezolizumab, while the NEOSTAR trial evaluated nivolumab and a combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab.

What Patients Need to Know

Atezolizumab, nivolumab and ipilimumab are all types of immunotherapy known as “immune checkpoint inhibitors.” Atezolizumab and nivolumab work by releasing a molecular “brake” known as PD-L1 that prevents the body’s immune system from attacking tumors. Ipilimumab seeks out and locks onto CTLA-4, a protein that normally helps keep immune system cells (called T-cells) in check. By blocking the action of CTLA-4, ipilimumab is thought to help the immune system destroy cancer cells.

Novel anti-HER3 drug evaluated in phase I trial for treatment of NSCLC with EGFR mutation

According to research from a phase I trial, the novel (new) anti-HER3 antibody drug conjugate U3-1402 appeared to decrease tumor size in cases of NSCLC with a mutation of the EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) gene.

What Patients Need to Know

HER3 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 3) is overexpressed in the majority of EGFR-mutated lung cancers. Targeting HER3 is being explored as a treatment option for patients whose NSCLC has become resistant to treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs).

Clinical benefit shown by adding ramucirumab to erlotinib in treatment of EGFR-positive NSCLC

The phase III RELAY trial showed that adding ramucirumab to erlotinib reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 40 percent in patients with EGFR-positive non-small cell lung cancer, compared to treatment with erlotinib alone.

What Patients Need to Know

Ramucirumab is a drug designed to cut off the blood supply that tumors need to grow. Erlotinib is a targeted therapy that is often used in the treatment of EGFR-positive NSCLC.

Immunotherapy drug added to chemoradiation reduces risk of recurrence in unresectable NSCLC

The phase III PACIFIC trial found that adding the immunotherapy durvalumab to radiation and chemotherapy significantly decreased the recurrence of lung cancer in patients with stage III unresectable (inoperable) non-small cell lung cancer.

What Patients Need to Know

Durvalumab, a type of immune checkpoint inhibitor, works by interfering with a molecular “brake” known as PD-1 or PD-L1 that prevents the body’s immune system from attacking cancer cells.