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Atezolizumab in addition to chemotherapy for stage IV non-squamous non-small-cell lung cancer – first line

Drugs

Cancer and Palliative Care

July 2018


Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) comprise the majority of lung cancers in the UK. NSCLC has two types, squamous and non-squamous (which includes adenocarcinoma and large cell) cancers. Adenocarcinoma and large cell cancers both involve the outer areas of the lungs and are difficult to detect in early stages. Stage IV (or advanced/metastatic) NSCLC is when the cancer has spread beyond the lung which was initially affected, most often to the liver, the adrenal glands, the bones, and the brain. Symptoms may include a persistent cough, hoarseness, shortness of breath, weight-loss or lack of appetite, feeling weak or tired, coughing up blood and pneumonia or infections that keep coming back.
Atezolizumab is a monoclonal antibody designed to recognise and attach to a protein called ‘programmed death-ligand 1’ (PD-L1), which is present on the surface of many cancer cells. PD-L1 switches off immune cells that would otherwise attack cancer cells. By attaching to PD-L1 and reducing its effect, atezolizumab increases the ability of the immune system to attack the cancer cells and thereby slow down the progression of the disease. Atezolizumab is administered by intravenous infusion. If licensed, atezolizumab in addition to current chemotherapy will offer an additional first line treatment option for patients with untreated, advanced, non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer.

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