Locally led research provides new hope for lung cancer patients around the world

Cai Wenjun
Shanghai Chest Hospital's Dr Lu Shun says new method can result in the risk of disease development or death dropping by 84 percent and reducing the risk of metastasis in the brain.
Cai Wenjun
Locally led research provides new hope for lung cancer patients around the world
Ti Gong

Dr Lu Shun of Shanghai Chest Hospital checks a lung cancer patient.

International research involving local experts is offering a new way of treating lung cancer patients who can't receive surgery. It is to be included in a new international guideline next month.

Dr Lu Shun from Shanghai Chest Hospital led the research, which offers targeted medication for patients with stage-3 lung cancer and EGFR genetic mutation.

Currently, such patients only receive radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. But the five-year survival rate is less than 20 percent.

"About one third of patients are in stage-3 while being diagnosed and the majority of them have missed the opportunity for surgery. About 10 to 15 percent of such patients in the US and Europe have EGFR mutation and the percentage is 30 to 40 percent in Asia. The current treatment doesn't have positive effects and such patients are likely to have metastasis in the brain," Lu said.

"We have been looking for new solutions to help these patients and kicked off international research in 2019."

The study involved 216 patients from countries that included China, the US, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and Turkey.

Previously, some doctors may have given targeted medicines to such patients. But there was no evidence and no guideline. This research provides evidence to support and regulate the practice.

Patients receiving targeted medicine can have 39.1 months without any cancerous development, while just 5.6 months with the usual treatment. The risk of brain metastasis is also much lower.

"Overall, the risk of disease development or death can drop by 84 percent. It is a very promising result, which received great attention when we introduced the research at the recent meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world's biggest and most influential oncology body. Experts said they will include our research into the new version of an international guideline in July," Lu said.

"It is a recognition of Chinese experts and our clinical achievement."

The research was published by world-leading The New England Journal of Medicine.

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