Latest lung cancer findings from the European oncology congress
Lung cancer is the most deadly cancer worldwide, claiming the lives of more than 1.5 million people annually. During the 2014 Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), it received a lot of attention, and hopefully this will translate to benefits for patients.
Our Chief Medical Officer attended the Congress and summarizes the key findings.
Advanced non-small cell lung cancer
An analysis of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, the agent Pembrolizumab showed some promise. The disease at this stage is particularly challenging, which makes the 20% overall response rate an important metric. Interestingly, the agent was found more effective in patients who smoke, but also among those with tumors which had an over-expression of a particular protein called PD-L1 (“Programmed death ligand 1”). 
Among the international team of researchers was Dr Jean-Charles Soria from the Gustave Roussy Cancer Center in France, who is a member of the CareAcross Scientific Committee.
Non-small cell lung cancer with genetic ALK rearrangements
In patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer with rearrangements of the ALK gene, crizotinib is currently the best agent available. Researchers from Japan focused on those patients whose tumors develop resistance, and indicated other promising novel agents, including ceritinib and alectinib. As a matter of fact, for those patients who develop brain metastasis, alectinib was found the most effective. 
EGFR-mutated advanced non-small cell lung cancer
Patients with EGFR mutated advanced lung adenocarcinoma are treated with specific targeted drugs such as erlotinib, gefitinib or afatinib. If the disease reappears because of drug resistance, then chemotherapy is mandatory. A broad team of researchers found in a study that the addition of a targeted agent to the chemotherapy is not helpful. 
Among the researchers was Dr Tony Mok from Hong-Kong, another member of the CareAcross Scientific Committee, as well as Dr Jean-Charles Soria who also contributed to the first study mentioned above.
- ESMO abstract LBA43 - Antitumor activity of pembrolizumab (Pembro; MK-3475) and correlation with programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression in a pooled analysis of patients (pts) with advanced non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC): E. Garon (Santa Monica, United States of America) L. Gandhi (Boston, United States of America) N. Rizvi (New York, United States of America) R. Hui (Sydney, Australia) A. Balmanoukian (Santa Monica, United States of America) A. Patnaik (San Antonio, United States of America) J. Eder (New Haven, United States of America) G. Blumenshein (Houston, United States of America) C. Aggarwal (Philadelphia, United States of America) J. Soria (Villejuif, France) M. Ahn (Seoul, Korea) M. Gubens (San Francisco, United States of America) S. Ramalingam (Atlanta, United States of America) E. Johnson (Jacksonville, United States of America) H. Arkenau (London, United Kingdom) G. Lubiniecki (Whitehouse Station, United States of America) J. Zhang (North Wales, United States of America) R. Rutledge (Whitehouse Station, United States of America) K. Emancipator (Rahway, United States of America) N. Leighl (Toronto, Canada)
- ESMO abstract 1224O - Anti-tumor activity of alectinib in crizotinib pre-treated ALK-rearranged NSCLC in JP28927 study: T. Seto (Fukuoka, Japan) T. Hida (Nagoya, Japan) K. Nakagawa (Osakasayama, Japan) M. Satouchi (Akashi, Japan) M. Nishio (Tokyo, Japan) K. Hotta (Okayama, Japan) H. Murakami (Shizuoka, Japan) Y. Ohe (Kashiwa, Japan) K. Takeda (Osaka, Japan) M. Tatsuno (Tokyo, Japan) T. Shimada (Tokyo, Japan) T. Tanaka (Tokyo, Japan) T. Tamura (Tokyo, Japan)
- ESMO abstract LBA2_PR - Gefitinib/chemotherapy vs chemotherapy in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation-positive non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) after progression on first-line gefitinib: The phase III, randomised IMPRESS study: T. Mok (Hong Kong, China) Y. Wu (Guangzhou, China) K. Nakagawa (Osakasayama City, Japan) S. Kim (Seoul, Korea, Democratic People's Republic of) J. Yang (Guangzhou, China) M. Ahn (Seoul, Korea, Democratic People's Republic of) J. Wang (Beijing, China) J. Yang (Taipei, Taiwan) Y. Lu (Sichuan, China) S. Atagi (Osaka, Japan) S. Ponce (Madrid, Spain) X. Shi (Shanghai, China) A. Webster (Macclesfield, United Kingdom) H. Jiang (Shanghai, China) J. Soria (Villejuif, France)