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Lung Cancer Health Center

Vaccine May Treat Lung Cancer

Experimental Vaccine Shows Promise in Some Early-Stage Lung Cancer
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Immunotherapy vs. Chemotherapy

This year in the U.S., 215,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed and close to 162,000 people will die from the disease, according to National Cancer Institute projections.

Surgery is the standard treatment for patients with early-stage disease, but about 50% of patients who have surgery end up dying of their lung cancer, Vansteenkiste says.

He says adding chemotherapy to surgery boosts the survival rate by about 10%, a rate similar to that seen in the MAGE-A3 trial.

Last year, GlaxoSmithKline began recruitment for a phase III study of the cancer vaccine, which will include more than 2,000 patients whose cancers express MAGE-A3.

The placebo-controlled trial will include patients treated with the vaccine both instead of and in addition to chemotherapy.

"We want to see if there is an extra benefit to adding the immunotherapy to chemotherapy," he says.

Len Lichtenfeld, MD, of the American Cancer Center, tells WebMD that it remains to be seen if the MAGE-A3 vaccine will prove to be a useful treatment for lung cancer.

"The study suggests that there may be some benefit here, but clearly a larger trial will tell us more," he tells WebMD.

He adds that it will not be clear if the immunotherapy works as well as chemotherapy until the two treatments are compared head-to-head.

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