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Atezolizumab in Addition to Chemotherapy for Stage IV Squamous Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer – First Line

Drugs

Cancer and Palliative Care

May 2018


Squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a type of lung cancer that develops in the cells that line the airways. This lung cancer is relatively fast growing and is usually caused by smoking. Squamous NSCLC starts in early versions of squamous cells, which are flat cells that line the inside of the airways in the lungs and tend to be found in the central area of the lung, e.g. near the main airway (bronchus). Symptoms 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. Stage IV squamous NSCLC is the most advanced form of the disease where the cancer has spread beyond the lungs into other areas of the body. The aim of treatment at this stage is to prolong survival, improve quality of life, and control disease-related symptoms.
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 chemotherapy will offer an additional first line treatment option for patients with untreated, advanced, squamous non-small cell lung cancer.

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