As the most common cancer type across the globe, lung cancer impacts approximately 1.6 million people—leading the number of cancer-related deaths for both men and women in the United States. The vast majority of lung cancer cases are related to the patient's history cigarette use—a risk factor that accounts for roughly 80% of lung cancers.
Lung cancer is subdivided into two major types: non-small cell lung cancer, NSCLC, and small cell lung cancer, SCLC, with most lung cancers presenting as non-squamous NSCLC. By the time that most lung cancer patients are diagnosed, the disease is already advanced, or at stage IIIb/IV or higher—when surgery, chemo, and radiation are only minimally effective. For this reason, new, more advanced treatment technology is badly needed for patients facing an advanced lung cancer diagnosis.
Thankfully, immunotherapy has the potential to benefit lung cancer patients for whom more conventional chemotherapy or radiation treatments are ineffective. Currently, there are three targeted antibodies approved for lung cancer patients, in addition to three checkpoint immunotherapy drugs. The monoclonal antibodies bevacizumab and ramucirumab work to prevent tumors from producing new blood vessels, while necitumumab targets growth through another growth pathway. Furthermore, the checkpoint inhibitors atezolizumab, nivolumab, and pembrolizumab are all approved for advanced lung cancer patients, with pembrolizumab being available as a first-line option for these patients.
Due to these immunotherapies, many advanced-stage lung cancer patients are starting to see long-lasting remissions and longer survival rates.
Are you a patient or caregiver interested in learning more about cancer immunotherapy treatment and clinical trials? If so, visit our Patient section on immunotherapy for lung cancer.
CRI's Impact on Lung Cancer
Since the beginning of our history, CRI has dedicated numerous grants and fellowships to the research of lung cancer immunotherapy. We continue to fund the science of immune-based therapies for lung cancer, supporting the best scientists working to advance the field of this promising treatment.
CRI-funded discoveries and breakthroughs, along with ongoing studies, include as discovery of the connection between the anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab and high levels of genetic mutations in lung tumors, (demonstrating the nature of mutational load in tumors as a factor in response to anti-PD1-therapy as a treatment), chimeric antigen receptor therapy as a treatment for lung cancer, and fabrication of synthetic long peptides using the antigen XAGE-1b as lung cancer vaccines. Additional study is ongoing in the area of HMGB1-driven inflammation's role in the development of malignant mesothelioma following asbestos exposure.
With your help, we can fund more research and revolutionize the way lung cancer is treated and cured, forever—curing more people and saving more lives.