Exciting findings from a three-year-long clinical trial have revealed that an AstraZeneca drug, osimertinib, has the potential to significantly decrease the risk of death for certain lung cancer patients. The results, recently published in the Journal of New England Medicine, demonstrate a noteworthy improvement in overall survival when patients were administered osimertinib compared to those who received a placebo.
The trial, which involved 682 participants from various international sites, focused exclusively on a subset of lung cancer patients with a specific gene mutation known as EGFR. This mutation is present in approximately 10 to 15% of lung cancer patients, as reported by the American Lung Cancer Association. Patients were given a daily pill of either osimertinib or a placebo.
Findings from the study
The analysis of the study indicated that an estimated 88% of patients treated with the AstraZeneca drug were alive after several years, in contrast to 73% of those who received the placebo, according to an AstraZeneca press release. Dr. Boone Goodgame, medical director for Oncology at Ascension Seton, expressed enthusiasm about the trial results, highlighting that the drug essentially doubled the cure rate for patients receiving it. Although Goodgame was not involved in the trial, he acknowledged the significance of this milestone in lung cancer treatment.
Notably, osimertinib has been in circulation for nearly a decade, primarily used to treat metastatic (stage four) lung cancer. This sequential approach to drug development is a common practice in the field, with researchers initially focusing on treating the most advanced stages of cancer before moving toward curable types. Goodgame emphasized the dynamic nature of lung cancer treatment and the continuous rise in cure rates as more tailored options become available for patients with specific mutations.
Dangers of the Disease
Despite significant advancements in lung cancer patients treatment over the past decade, Goodgame emphasized that the disease remains a persistent threat. Smoking has been firmly established as the leading risk factor for lung cancer, making it crucial for individuals to avoid smoking to reduce their chances of developing the disease. Additionally, Goodgame underscored the importance of lung cancer screening, stating that individuals with a history of heavy smoking should undergo annual CAT scans to detect the disease early. Unfortunately, he noted that many patients are not currently adhering to this recommendation.
The groundbreaking findings from this clinical trial provide hope for lung cancer patients with the EGFR mutation, highlighting the potential of osimertinib to improve long-term survival rates. As the field of lung cancer treatment continues to evolve, advancements like these offer patients more options and better prospects for recovery.