Immunotherapy greatly increased success in lung cancer treatment
Saying that promising results have started to be obtained with new generation treatments and immunotherapy drugs used in the treatment of lung cancer, Yeditepe University Hospital Medical Oncology Department Head and Turkish Medical Oncology Association Secretary General Prof. Dr. Başak Oyan Uluç said, “There are now many more options in the treatment of lung cancer. Personalized treatments and immunotherapy offer more effective and long-term results with far fewer side effects.
Stating that lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women, Prof. Dr. Başak Oyan Uluç said, “Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer in both men and women in the world. While lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in men in Turkey, lung cancer ranks fifth in women. The fact that Turkey is one of the countries with the highest number of smokers is a big factor in this,” he said.
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Turkey is behind in early diagnosis, at world standards in treatment
Stating that Turkey lags behind the world in terms of early diagnosis and awareness level, Prof. Dr. Başak Oyan Uluç emphasized that the treatment is at world standards. prof. Dr. Başak Oyan Uluç summarized the recent developments in the treatment of lung cancer as follows: “In recent years, very important progress has been made in the field of lung cancer. In the decision to treat lung cancer, it was sufficient to divide patients into small cell and non-small cell cells.
We used to give the same treatment to every patient in either of these two groups, so we didn’t have a differentiated, personalized treatment approach. But we’ve seen in recent years that there are many different subtypes of lung cancer. Treatments of subtypes such as adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma differ in non-small cell lung cancer. There are also genetic disorders that cause a cell to become tumorous; We call these mutations. We have reached more successful points by giving different treatments targeting them according to the mutations we detected in the tumor.”
New generation personalized treatments give hope to lung cancer patients
A mutation that causes cancer is detected in 60 percent of lung cancers.
Stating that the concept of personalized treatment has emerged in the last ten years, Prof. Dr. Başak Oyan Uluç explained this concept as follows: “We first differentiate non-small cell lung cancer according to its pathological subtypes. Then we look at the mutation that causes tumorigenesis in such patients. The most important ones for us today are the presence of EGFR and ALK mutations. If these exist, we achieve more successful results by treating patients with appropriate drugs.
However, if these mutations are not present, we treat our patients with standard chemotherapy regimens. Cancer patients with EGFR and ALK mutations make up 10 to 15 percent of our patients. However, these mutations are not alone in lung cancer. We’re detecting new mutations every day, and we know that 60 percent of lung cancer actually has a mutation, but we don’t currently have drugs that target other mutations. In the not-too-distant future, we will most likely have drugs for them, and 60 percent of patients can be treated accordingly.”
The success rate in personalized treatments is up to 80%.
Stating that the response rate in lung cancer patients receiving chemotherapy for the first time is around 30 percent, this rate rises to 70 percent when personalized treatments are applied. Dr. Başak Oyan-Uluç said that personalized, new generation treatments prevent the progression of the disease for a longer time and increase the life expectancy of patients. “The life expectancy of patients varies according to the person, mutation and stage of the disease. Personalized treatments are currently used in advanced patients.
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Life expectancy in patients with metastases may vary. But we achieved 2 to 3 times increase in some subtypes compared to the past. “Targeted drugs cause fewer side effects than chemotherapies because they target the tumor.”
Second hope in lung cancer: immunotherapy
Underlining that there are very rapid and effective developments in the field of immunotherapy, Prof. Dr. Başak Oyan Uluç summarized the latest developments in cancer immunotherapy as follows: “If a person has been diagnosed with cancer, it means that the immune system cells have a deficiency in recognizing or destroying cancerous cells.
In recent years, after the discovery of tolerance mechanisms that prevent the immune system from destroying cancer, drugs have been developed to reverse these mechanisms. Now, with immunotherapy, the human body can be made to attack the tumor again. Two immunotherapy drugs were licensed in the US this year for their benefit in metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. The toxic effects of these drugs are quite low and their effects are much longer lasting. So the second promising treatment will be immunotherapy.”
Immunotherapy studies in lung cancer are promising
90% of lung cancers are caused by smoking
Emphasizing that 90 percent of all lung cancers develop due to tobacco, Prof. Dr. Başak Oyan Uluç said: “As tobacco use decreases in a country, lung cancer also decreases. Thanks to measures such as smoke-free airspace, which have been successfully implemented in Turkey in recent years, the number of smokers has decreased. This decrease has begun to be reflected in the incidence of lung cancer, especially in men.”