Medical Research

published : 2023-11-09

Lung Cancer Pill Shows 'Earth-Shattering' Results in 5-year Study: 'An Optimistic Time'

Hackensack Meridian's Dr. Faiz Bhora Shares His Experience with Tagrisso in 'the Era of Personalized Medicine'

A doctor explaining lung cancer treatment options to a patient, taken with a Nikon D850.

Many lung cancer patients now have access to a potentially life-saving medication.

Osimertinib, sold under the brand name Tagrisso, is available to patients with Stage 1B-3A lung cancer who have a certain genetic mutation and have had surgery to remove cancerous tumors.

According to research published in The New England Journal of Medicine over the summer, Tagrisso was shown to reduce the five-year risk of recurrent cancer by up to 73% and the risk of death by up to 51%.

Dr. Faiz Y. Bhora, chief of thoracic surgery and central region chair of surgery at Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey, described these results as 'earth-shattering' in the world of oncology.

'In the past, medical oncologists were happy with 5% or 10% improvement in survival, and now we're talking about in excess of 50% improvement,' Dr. Bhora said.

He emphasized that this marks a significant advancement in the field of personalized medicine, as there are now targeted therapies that work well for patients with specific mutations in their tumors.

An image of a laboratory technician conducting a genetic mutation test, taken with a Sony A7 III.

For patients with a genetic mutation called EGFRm who have already undergone surgery, Tagrisso helps prevent recurrence of the tumor.

Stage 4 lung cancer patients with the EGFR mutation are also eligible for the pill, even without having had surgery.

To determine if a patient has the mutation, a tissue sample or blood test can be conducted.

It is estimated that about 25% of patients with lung cancer have the EGFR mutation.

According to the American Cancer Society, around 238,000 new cases of lung cancer are expected in 2023, resulting in approximately 127,000 deaths.

Dr. Bhora believes that with the advent of personalized therapies like Tagrisso, there is hope on the horizon for many lung cancer patients.

A group of lung cancer survivors participating in a support group session, taken with a Canon 5D Mark IV.

He expressed optimism towards turning lung cancer into a chronic disease or aiming for complete cure in a vast majority of cases.

While Tagrisso has reported some side effects, such as rash, diarrhea, and fatigue, they are considered manageable.

Patients experiencing bothersome or long-lasting side effects should consult with their healthcare provider.

It is worth noting that Tagrisso has shown unprecedented results in boosting survival rates and preventing recurrence, making it an exciting time for lung cancer patients.