New drug for patients with late-stage lung cancer

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)–A new drug has been approved by the FDA in the fight against lung cancer. Tecentriq is being used by patients like Cornelius Bresnan, who had late-stage cancer.

“They found a spot in the lung. They felt some lumps in my neck,” Bresnan said.

But he had run out of options.

“Glad I came here and got that miracle drug,” he says.

Tecentriq is an immunotherapy medication, and the focus of an international clinical trial.

Lead investigator Dr. Roy Herbst at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven and Yale Cancer Center touted the drug’s ability.

“Tumors are very smart,” Dr. Herbst explained, “And they have ways to camouflage themselves so these drugs actually open up the immune system so that they can attack the tumor.”

It’s given every three weeks intravenously.

Dr. Herbst says, “It activates the immune system against the tumor and allows people to live with their lung cancer in a very functional way.”

There is now little evidence of Cornelius’s tumor.

Dr. Scott Gettinger is his oncologist.

“We have patients just from the first trials of these drugs now out seven years without any evidence of disease so at some point you being to wonder, will this ever come back,” Gettinger said.

He says people like Cornelius, with an exceptional response, have similarities.

“Some lung cancers have many abnormalities, alterations, ” Dr. Gettinger says, “We call them mutations. And in Cornelius, we found a high number of these mutations.”

Dr. Herbst points out, “As good as this is, we are still only helping about one in four.”

The former smoker is still on the drug. Decidedly with a heady optimism.

“I’m not worried about the cancer, I know it’s gone,” says Cornelius.

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