In a groundbreaking global study spanning a decade, researchers have discovered that a daily pill called osimertinib can reduce the risk of dying from lung cancer by 51%, APA reports citing Sputnik.
The results, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting, have been hailed as "thrilling" and "unprecedented."
Led by Yale University, the Adaura trial involved patients from 26 countries and focused on non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of the disease.
All participants had a mutation of the EGFR gene, which is present in around a quarter of lung cancer cases globally and up to 40% of cases in Asia.
The mutation is more prevalent in women and in individuals who have never smoked or have been light smokers.
The trial also revealed that osimertinib halved the risk of cancer recurrence, further reinforcing its potential as a game-changer in lung cancer treatment.
The study involved 682 patients, with approximately two-thirds being women and having no history of smoking. The survival benefit of osimertinib was observed across all study subgroups, including patients with different stages of lung cancer. The drug's effectiveness was consistent regardless of whether patients had received prior chemotherapy.
Dr. Roy Herbst, the lead author of the study and deputy director of Yale Cancer Center, emphasized the significance of the findings. He noted that three decades ago, there were no effective treatments for such patients, but now, with the introduction of this potent drug, the 50% reduction in the risk of death is a major breakthrough.
"Fifty per cent is a big deal in any disease, but certainly in a disease like lung cancer, which has typically been very resistant to therapies," said Dr. Herbst.
Dr. Herbst, an assistant dean for translational research at Yale School of Medicine, asserted that osimertinib should become the standard of care for lung cancer patients worldwide who have the EGFR mutation.
Although the drug is already accessible to some patients in the UK, US, and other countries, Herbst stressed that more individuals should benefit from its availability. He also emphasized the need to test all lung cancer patients for the EGFR mutation, as the study's findings underscore the importance of identifying patients who could benefit from osimertinib.
Dr. Nathan Pennell, an expert from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, praised the study's results, highlighting the unequivocal and highly significant improvement in survival rates offered by osimertinib. The five-year overall survival rate for patients who took the pill after tumor removal was 88%, compared to 78% for those who received a placebo.
The findings have been met with excitement and significance by lung cancer charities. Angela Terry, the chair of EGFR Positive UK, described the results as "very exciting" and "hugely significant," noting that the availability of an effective drug with tolerable side effects allows patients to have a better quality of life for an extended period.
"A five-year overall survival rate of 88% is incredibly positive news," she said.