At Asco you also presented the data from the Pacific study for stage 3 lung cancer considered practically incurable until a few years ago. Today, therefore, can it be said – with due caution – that all cancers are curable?
The Pacific is a study of patients with stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer, i.e. inoperable but who can have chemotherapy plus radiotherapy. Until now this disease was considered incurable, but the data presented to Asco tells us that we have obtained an average survival of 47 months, more than
40% of patients are alive at five years and more importantly 1 in three patients after 5 years has not yet had disease progression. Here, now we begin to ask ourselves if we can consider these patients cured. We don’t really know, but with the progress we are making we can aim for this goal. Change the patient’s perspective.
We have understood that through different mechanisms of action, in particular by manipulating the immune system to act against the tumor, we can control the disease for longer and sometimes, in a still small number of patients, the immune system together with other treatments. specific can eradicate the tumor.
This happens, for example, in melanoma, lung and kidney cancer in which the immune system plays a primary role. But what has changed and can really make a difference is the switch made in the early stages. It is no coincidence that the common thread of this year’s
Asco are the data and studies of many companies in various types of cancer, from breast, lung, kidney, which show increasingly important benefits in early stage patients who can act to prevent the disease from returning. The idea is to bring the therapy to the patient as soon as possible because the chances of getting well are even greater.
But for these effective drugs to be administered as soon as possible, diagnosis must be early and for many cancers this is not the case, even more so during the pandemic. It’s like having blunt weapons: what role do you play?
The diagnosis must gallop as quickly as possible, but unfortunately Covid has put a stop. In the United States, for example, we had 10 million fewer diagnoses than in the pre-Covid period for breast, prostate and colon cancer.
The Italian Association of Medical Oncology (AIOM) highlighted that in Italy in 2020, compared to 2019, new cancer diagnoses decreased by 11%, new pharmacological treatments decreased by 13% while surgical interventions did register a -18%.
But the pandemic will pass, leaving us some ‘lessons’ not to be forgotten, starting with the possibility of being helped by technology precisely to make diagnoses in a different way, also using new technological approaches with genomic screening carried out with a simple blood sample that can predict and increase the early stage diagnosis.