Roche’s Tecentriq-chemotherapy combo now approved for treating aggressive type of lung cancer

May 21, 2020

The Singaporean Health Sciences Authority (HAS) has recently approved of global pharmaceutical giant Roche’s new immunotherapy treatment: Tecentriq® (Atezolizumab) will be used as first-line treatment of adults with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC), after reports showed that the cancer immunotherapy helped patients live significantly longer compared to chemotherapy alone. Apart from Singapore, the immunotherapy has also been approved in Europe, China and the US. 

Lung cancer accounts for nearly 1.76 million fatalities each year. The cancer can be categorised into two major types: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). 

A particularly aggressive form of lung cancer associated with cigarette smoking, SCLC grows quickly and spreads early to other parts of the body. However, survival rates for patients with SCLC vary depending on the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis – according to the five-year relative survival rate for people with stage I SCLC is approximately 31% but, at stage IV, the five-year relative survival rate drops to just 2%. (Survival rates are largely dependent on early diagnosis and treatment.)

Medical Oncologist Dr. Wong Seng Weng at The Cancer Centre, Singapore (TCC-SG), revealed that most patients with SCLC will likely have ES-SCLC, sothe new cancer immunotherapy is hoped to “redefine” the management of patients with ESSCLC.

Lung cancer has the highest mortality rate among males and the second highest among females in Singapore: “The approval of atezolizumab provides a new immunotherapy treatment option for patients in Singapore, giving renewed hope to those living with an aggressive disease that is extremely difficult to treat,” said Dr. Ross Soo, Senior Consultant, Department of Haematology-Oncology, National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS).

Dr. Soo explained, in Roche’s Phase III study, the addition of atezolizumab to chemotherapy showed an improvement in median survival from 10.3 months to 12.3 months, which translated to a 30% reduction in risk of death; the addition of immunotherapy also did not appear to worsen patients’ quality of life.“While the existing prognosis for ES-SCLC remains dismal, we are now making great strides in improving quality of life and prolonging survival.” 

Patient testimonials have so far supported long-term treatment with atezolizumab – commenting on this observation, Dr. Sivabalan Sivanesan, Medical Director of Roche Singapore, said, “As the new first-line treatment in over 20 years, the availability of Tecentriq® enables Roche to redefine the standard of care for treating ES-SCLC.

“We are excited to renew a sense of hope for patients living with ES-SCLC and look forward to advancing survival rates and overall health outcomes.” 


Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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