Lung cancer: a new treatment combining immunotherapies and chemotherapy reduces risk of recurrence and death by almost 40%

Press Office
04/11/2022
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For the first time, an international phase-3 study - CheckMate-816 - conducted among people suffering from non-small cell lung cancer clearly shows the benefits of a combination of immunotherapy with chemotherapy, administered prior to surgery.
Nicolas Girard

Approved last March in the United States by the FDA, this new treatment significantly improves survival and reduces risk of recurrence and death by almost 40%. The full results from this study are presented by Prof. Nicolas Girard, oncologist and pulmonologist and head of the Curie-Montsouris Thorax Institute, at a plenary session of the AACR meeting on April 11, 2022, in New Orleans, USA. These results are published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death throughout the world, with around 1.8 million deaths in 2020. It is the third most prevalent cancer in France, and its incidence is rising sharply among women. Among the two main types of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for up to 84% of diagnoses, the majority of which (around 60%) are non-metastatic. Many patients with non-metastatic NSCLC are cured by surgery but 30 to 55% of them develop recurrence. The search for therapeutic options with neoadjuvant (before surgery) or adjuvant (after surgery) treatments is thus vital for improving the outcomes of these patients in the long term.

Coordinated since 2017 by teams from the Curie-Montsouris Thorax Institute, the results of the international phase-3 study CheckMate-816 reveal the effectiveness of administrating neoadjuvant treatment combining immunotherapy with chemotherapy in 358 patients suffering from non-metastatic NSCLC.

“Five years after beginning enrolling patients in this trial, today I am delighted to present the phase-3 results that truly change the outcomes for our patients, based on the work of a team of pulmonologists, surgeons, oncologists and expert pathologists. Although surgery is effective for patients with non-small cell lung cancer, many of them suffer from recurrence. With this neoadjuvant treatment combining immunotherapy with chemotherapy, we are now able to significantly reduce this risk of recurrence and improve patient survival,” explains Prof. Nicolas Girard.

An almost 40% reduction in recurrence

The early results showed that, for 24% of patients receiving this new therapeutic combination, no trace of cancerous cells was found in tissues taken during the surgical procedure - compared with just 2% for patients receiving chemotherapy alone.

At the 2022 AACR Meeting, Prof. Nicolas Girard, oncologist and pulmonologist, head of the Curie-Montsouris Thorax Institute, presents data on survival for the first time from the CheckMate-816 study, revealing a significant improvement in patient survival. When administered before surgery, the treatment combining immunotherapies and chemotherapy reduces the risk of recurrence of the disease by 37%. Patient survival is improved, with a 43% reduction in risk of death.

At this stage, the results also show that tolerance to treatment was satisfactory and had no impact on surgery: the procedures performed were identical with a relatively high rate of pneumonectomy (cancer advanced locally) but with no increase in post-surgical complications. In addition, surgery time is no longer, and is even significantly shorter.

Data on overall survival are promising, since at two years 83% of patients treated with a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy before surgery were still alive, compared with 71% for chemotherapy alone.

Recent approval by the US Food and Drug Administration

Last March, the FDA in the United States approved this new treatment of three cycles of immunotherapy plus chemotherapy, before surgery; the good results achieved are testament to this. “These data truly have the potential to transform the care of patients and the way in which surgeons and oncologists approach the treatment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer. And finally, this study demonstrates the benefit of the close collaboration between pulmonologists, oncologists, surgeons, pathologists and radiologists, as part of the multidisciplinary treatment of patients that we are implementing for each patient treated at the Curie-Montsouris Thorax Institute,” concludes Nicolas Girard.

Références :

Session AACR : Neoadjuvant and Perioperative Immunotherapy Clinical Trials
CT012 - Nivolumab (NIVO) + platinum-doublet chemotherapy (chemo) vs chemo as neoadjuvant treatment for resectable (IB-IIIA) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC): Event-free survival (EFS) results from the phase 3 CheckMate 816 trial : https://www.abstractsonline.com/pp8/#!/10517/presentation/20154

Neoadjuvant Nivolumab plus Chemotherapy in Resectable Lung Cancer. Patrick M. Forde (…) and Nicolas Girard, M.D., Ph.D. for the CheckMate 816 Investigators*
April 11, 2022, New England Journal of Medicine - DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2202170

About the Curie-Montsouris Chest Center
The Curie-Montsouris Chest Center includes the Respiratory Medicine and Chest Surgery departments of the Institut Mutualiste Montsouris and the Medical Oncology and Radiotherapeutic Oncology departments of Institut Curie. These two centers joined forces to allow patients with lung cancer and other chest infections to benefit from coordinated healthcare pathway and from the expertise of specialists from both centers.

About Institut Curie
Institut Curie, France’s leading cancer center, combines an internationally-renowned research center with a cutting-edge hospital group, which treats all types of cancer, including the rarest. Founded in 1909 by Marie Curie, Institut Curie employs 3,700 researchers, physicians, and health professionals across three sites (Paris, Saint-Cloud, and Orsay), all of whom contribute to its three missions of treatment, teaching, and research. A private foundation with public utility status, Institut Curie is authorized to accept donations and bequests, and thanks to the support of its donors, is able to accelerate discoveries and improve patient treatment and quality of life. Find out more at curie.fr

About Institut Mutualiste Montsouris (IMM)
The IMM is a private health institution of collective interest accessible to all without additional non-reimbursed fees. Located at 42 boulevard Jourdan in Paris’s 14th arrondissement, it is a hospital facility with 475 beds and places and carries out mainly major or complex surgeries in most areas of disease, except for neurosurgery and ENT. A center for excellence in research and teaching, the IMM is at the forefront of technological innovations, and is one of France’s top institutions.

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