Therapy Drug Osimertinib Improves Disease-Free Survival in Lung Cancer Patients

Survival rates for cancer differ based on the type of cancer, the stage of cancer at diagnosis and several other factors. Cancer researchers look for treatment options that improve survival rates in cancer patients, but especially seek options that provide high disease-free survival odds. While survival rates only indicate the likelihood of death, disease-free survival (DFS) rates indicate the likelihood of cancer recurrence or death. For this reason, DFS rates provide valuable information about the effectiveness of each cancer therapy.

Scientists seeking treatment options with high DFS rates for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) launched a trial for osimertinib, an oral medication that has been approved by the FDA for treatment of advanced lung cancer with EGFR mutations since 2015. The drug works by inhibiting genetic mutations that feed the growth and development of EGFR mutation-positive cancer. However, osimertinib was previously only approved to treat advanced cancer rather than early-stage NSCLC.

In the Yale Cancer Center osimertinib study, researchers aimed to show that the drug provided an equal alternative to chemotherapy for patients with early stage, non-small cell lung cancer with certain EGFR gene mutations. However, the researchers found that osimertinib provided 89% of study participants with DFS at the two-year mark, compared to 53% of study participants who were randomized to other treatments.

This discovery may provide an alternative option for a different standard of care than traditional treatment with chemotherapy. Therapy with osimertinib is highly targeted, making it more effective and reducing some of the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy. However, researchers will need to continue to monitor study participants to ensure that treatment provides the same or better long-term benefits than the current standard of care.

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