Research & Education

Challenges in Using New Lung Cancer Drugs in the Asian-Pacific Region

CHIANG MAI, THAILAND - Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, and especially in the Asian-Pacific region, is a major public health problem. In 2012, there were an estimated 1.8 million new lung cancer cases (13 percent of all cancers diagnosed), and 1.59 million deaths (19.4 percent of the total cancer deaths). Despite many recent advancements in the treatment of lung cancer, there are challenges in the use of novel regimens.

Conversation with Dr. Francoise Mornex and Dr. Punnarerk Thongcharoen in Conjunction with 2016 Asia Pacific Lung Cancer Conference (APLCC)

The treatment of locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is becoming a significant challenge because of a growing proportion of patients with unresectable (cannot be operated upon) stage III disease. Despite a multimodality approach consisting of concurrent chemo-radiotherapy, the prognosis remains poor.

Conversation with Dr. David Carbone in Conjunction with 2016 Asia Pacific Lung Cancer Conference (APLCC)

The five-year survival of lung cancer patients is historically low. Drug toxicity is another major challenge when it comes to cancer therapies. There is recent strong evidence that a new therapy – immunotherapy, which focuses on inhibiting either PD-1 or PD-L1 - has low toxicity and long-lasting anti-cancer effects in a subset of patients. This therapy promises to be a groundbreaking new approach to lung cancer. This new science also poses new questions: It works incredibly well for only some patients, so identifying a robust biomarker is essential.

Conversation with Dr. David Ball in Conjunction with 2016 Asia Pacific Lung Cancer Conference (APLCC)

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT), also known as Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR), has been a major development in the treatment of lung cancer in the last few years. It holds the promise of not only curing early-stage operable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but does so with minimal toxicity and offers the patient more comfort and convenience.

Conversation with Dr. Natthaya Triphuridet in Conjunction with 2016 Asia Pacific Lung Cancer Conference (APLCC)

The survival rate for lung cancer is strongly related to the stage of the disease. The earlier its detection, the better its survival rate. “Currently, low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) is the standard technique for lung cancer screening. The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), launched in 2002, found that screening with LDCT resulted in a 15-20 percent lower lung cancer-specific mortality and 6.7 percent lower all-cause mortality relative to chest radiography (X-ray) over a median of 6.5 years of follow-up,” said Dr. Natthaya Triphuridet, Pulmonologist and Assistant Director for Medical Affairs at Chulabhorn Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand. Dr. Triphuridet is among the faculty members of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) Asia Pacific Lung Cancer Conference (APLCC 2016).

Conversation with Dr. Paul A. Bunn, Jr. in Conjunction with the 2016 Asia Pacific Lung Cancer Conference (APLCC)

“Historically most patients of lung cancer were smokers with advanced lung disease, advanced cancer, and treatments were not very successful. So there was a high degree of pessimism about lung cancer and lung cancer therapy. There was no way to diagnose lung cancer early, and most patients presented with metastatic disease which could not be cured thereby further increasing the pessimism about it,” said Dr. Paul A. Bunn Jr, Distinguished Professor, Division of Medical Oncology, University of Colorado and James Dudley Chair in Lung Cancer Research, USA. Dr. Bunn is also the former President of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), former CEO of IASLC, former President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and the 2016 ASCO David A. Karnofsky Award recipient.