A new drug has been described as a “remarkable advancement in lung cancer”. 

Five-year, progression-free-survival data has been published for a study involving 296 patients with previously untreated ALK-positive, advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC).

Patients in this Phase III trial were randomised to receive either the new drug lorlatinib or an earlier treatment crizotinib.

Five years after treatment, 60 per cent of patients treated with lorlatinib remained alive and without disease progression, compared to just 8 per cent for patients who received crizotinib.

The updated results also show an 81 per cent reduction of risk of progression or death, and 94 per cent reduction in progression of brain metastasis, compared to crizotinib.

Peter Mac’s Professor Ben Solomon, as principal investigator for the study, has just presented these results at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual scientific meeting in Chicago, USA.

“ALK-positive advanced NSCLC is typically aggressive and often impacts younger people in the prime of their lives,” Prof Solomon says.

“This updated analysis shows that lorlatinib helped patients live longer without disease progression, with the majority of patients experiencing sustained benefit for over five years, including nearly all patients having protection from progression of disease in the brain.”

“These improvements in outcomes for patients with ALK-positive NSCLC represent a remarkable advancement in lung cancer.”

The results have been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer-related death around the world. NSCLC accounts for approximately 80 to 85 per cent of lung cancers, with ALK-positive tumours occurring in about 3 to 5 per cent of NSCLC cases. Patients with this form of lung cancer are known to be at high risk of developing brain metastases.