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Immune-boosting Drug May Help Before Lung Cancer Surgery

(ABC News/AP) Apr 12, 2021 - A drug that helps the immune system fight cancer gave dramatic results when used with chemotherapy before surgery in patients with operable lung tumors, doctors report. One out of 4 patients given chemo and the Bristol Myers Squibb drug Opdivo had no signs of cancer remaining once they ultimately had surgery, a study of about 350 such people found.

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H. Jack West, MD (Posted: April 18, 2021)

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These data are extremely encouraging for this setting, with a remarkable increase in the rate of pathologic complete response associated with the addition of nivolumab to chemo, compared to chemotherapy alone. We don't have event-free survival, let alone overall survival yet, and I would say we need to see these results before getting ahead of ourselves and declaring this approach a new standard of care, but the early data are about as encouraging as you could ever hope to see at this point. This is especially true when patients on the neoadjuvant chemo/nivolumab arm had only received three cycles to achieve the marked improvements seen here -- this wasn't as if it entailed an extra year or more of treatment.

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Tomasz M. Beer, MD, FACP

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Dean Gesme, MD

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