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Immunotherapies potent on rare small-cell lung cancer, biliary tract cancer
  • By Kim Yun-mi
  • Published 2020.06.12 12:03
  • Updated 2020.06.12 17:21
  • comments 0

Latest oncology studies have proved that immunotherapies were effective on rare and incurable cancer such as small-cell lung cancer and biliary tract cancer, a local medical society said.

The Korean Cancer Study Group on Thursday said it analyzed key clinical results announced at the meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in late May.

“What is noteworthy in the studies announced at the ASCO meeting is that we confirmed the effectiveness of immunotherapies even in cancer types that barely had treatment options,” the KCSG said. “In particular, studies on small-cell lung cancer and advanced biliary tract cancer produced meaningful outcomes.”

According to the KCSG, adding immunotherapy to the standard therapy of cytotoxic anti-cancer drug when treating small cell lung cancer reduced the risk of death by 20 to 30 percent, compared to the standard therapy alone. A cytotoxic treatment has been the standard of care for small-cell lung cancer for over two decades.

The KCSG cited a study of Professor Oh Do-youn at Seoul National University Hospital’s Hemato-Oncology Department announced during the ASCO’s poster session.

The study results showed that the addition of the immunotherapy to the conventional cytotoxic anticancer treatment increased the response rate of treatment in advanced biliary tract cancer, the society said.

“Through this research, we can anticipate the effectiveness of a combination of immunotherapy and cytotoxic anti-cancer drug in a phase-3 clinical trial for advanced biliary tract cancer,” it added.

The KCSG noted that it is not easy to conduct clinical trials to treat biliary tract cancer, rarer than gastric cancer, lung cancer, or breast cancer.

“It is very remarkable that a domestic researcher, instead of a large pharmaceutical company, gained meaningful results in rare cancer,” the medical group emphasized.

The KCSG also said the latest ASCO meeting also confirmed the effectiveness of targeted therapy and immune checkpoint inhibitor-using maintenance therapy.

The society paid attention to the JAVELIN Bladder 100 trial, which extended the survival of patients with advanced urothelial cancer.

The study results showed that administering avelumab to patients with unresectable or metastatic urothelial cancer did not worsen after the combo of gemcitabine and platinum-based chemotherapy (cisplatin or carboplatin) extended survival by 21.4 months, versus 14.3 months of the best supportive care group.

The KCSG also picked the SOLO-2 study as a significant trial to pay attention. The study compared olaparib with placebo in patients with platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer and a BRCA mutation that did not progress. As a result, olaparib improved median overall survival by 13 months (51.7 months vs. 38.8 months).

“There have been studies on such maintenance therapies in the past, but they failed to yield a clear survival benefit,” the KCSG said.

However, long-term anti-cancer drug administration became possible with the new drugs with low toxicity. Moreover, biomarkers to predict the new therapy’s effect have been discovered. So, using maintenance therapy after chemotherapy is drawing much attention, it added.


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