A promising new way to treat and cure lung cancer is called immunotherapy. These are drugs that help the immune system recognize and fight cancer. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is a leader in developing immunotherapy treatments.
In recent years, the FDA has approved several immunotherapy drugs for non-small cell lung cancer. These drugs include pembrolizumab (Keytruda®), nivolumab (Opdivo®), durvalumab (Imfinzi®), and atezolizumab (Tecentriq®).
These drugs release a brake on the immune system so it can start a stronger attack against cancer. We may use these drugs alone or with chemotherapy.
MSK doctors led many of the important research studies about the use of immunotherapy for cancer in general and lung cancer in particular. For example, MSK thoracic (chest) surgeons and medical oncologists (cancer doctors) played an important role in the first clinical trial on immunotherapy before lung cancer surgery. The research study found that lung tumors with more mutations (changes) were more likely to respond to immunotherapy.