Atezolizumab vs. Docetaxel Survival Time Assessed for NSCLC

HealthDay News — The immunotherapy atezolizumab extends the survival of previously treated non-small-cell lung cancer patients for several months and causes fewer side effects than docetaxel, according to a study published online in The Lancet.

The findings are from an early open-label analysis of 850 patients with squamous or non-squamous non-small-cell lung cancer in a phase 3 trial. The participants received either atezolizumab or docetaxel. Patients had previously received one to two cytotoxic chemotherapy regimens for stage IIIB or IV non-small-cell lung cancer. 

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According to a team led by David Gandara, MD, of the University of California, Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, patients who took atezolizumab survived for an average of 13.8 months, compared with 9.6 months for those on docetaxel. Patients taking atezolizumab also had lower rates of severe side effects. Fifteen percent experienced grade 3 or 4 adverse events while on atezolizumab, compared to 43% of those on docetaxel.

“This is the first phase 3 trial of a programmed death-ligand 1 [PD-L1]-directed immunotherapy in lung cancer,” Gandara said in a journal news release. “The fact that it improves survival in patients with all categories of PD-L1 expression is highly encouraging and adds to the already known benefits of immunotherapy in lung cancer.”

The study was funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche and Genentech; Genentech is the manufacturer of atezolizumab.

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