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Highlights from the 2017 European Society of Molecular Oncology

Thursday, September 14, 2017 - The Annual European Society of Molecular Oncology (ESMO) meeting, the most influential annual meeting for oncology professionals in Europe, concluded this week and there was a lot of big research news for the lung cancer community. Here are some important highlights:


  • A new immunotherapy drug, Imfinzi (durvalumab), showed a benefit for patients with Stage III non-small cell lung cancer when taken after chemotherapy-radiation. This is the first major study showing an immunotherapy benefit for patients with lung cancer that is not Stage IV.
  • There has been a question of how long patients should take immunotherapy drugs. A new study compared the time until cancer progressed for patients who took Opdivo (nivolumab) for just one year or continued to take it. The patients who continued on the drug had a longer time until their cancer progressed indicating that patients should stay on the therapy if they are doing well.

Targeted Therapy

  • The drug Tagrisso (osimeritinib), which is already approved for non-small cell lung cancer that has recurred and has a specific gene change called EGFR T790M, was tested as a first treatment. The study showed that cancers with EGFR mutations responded for significantly longer with first-line Tagrisso than other standard of care EGFR-targeted drugs, particularly if the patient had cancer that had spread to the brain.
  • The newly approved Taflinar (dabrafenib)/Mekinist (trametinib) combination was also effective as a first treatment if the lung cancer has a BRAF V600E change. This underscores the importance of up-front molecular testing at diagnosis.
  • A new drug called lorlatinib that has been tested in cancers with ALK changes also showed benefit for lung cancers with ROS1 gene changes.

Follow-Up After Cancer Surgery

  • One study showed that frequent CT scans after surgery for early-stage cancer surgery did not improve survival. This should inform follow-up recommendations and should give patients some peace of mind that they don't necessarily need CT scans every six months.

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