About Lung Cancer

About Lung Cancer

Understand the basics of lung cancer, diagnosis and different treatment options

About Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy works by boosting body's own natural defenses to fight cancer. It is a biological therapy that uses substances made from living organisms to treat cancer.40 Certain types of immunotherapy attack cancer or slow its spread to other parts of the body. Others make it easier for the immune system to destroy cancer cells.40


How immunotherapy works?
One reason that cancer cells thrive is because they are able to hide from the immune system.41 Immunotherapy is designed to activate the immune system, making it able to recognize cancer cells and destroy them.


Immunotherapy offers several different approaches to treating cancer. Certain immunotherapies can mark cancer cells so it is easier for the immune system to find and destroy them, while other immunotherapies boost the immune system to work better against cancer.41


Immunotherapy could: 42

  • Stop or slow the growth of cancer cells;
  • Stop cancer from spreading to other parts of the body;
  • Help the immune system work better at destroying cancer cells.


Immunotherapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
Immunotherapy can be a powerful treatment option for patients with lung cancer. Recently, immune checkpoint inhibitors (a type of immunotherapy) have become an important tool for treating advanced NSCLC. Currently, the drugs available include PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors.43 Your doctor will discuss with you if immunotherapy is going to benefit you and recommend the most appropriate treatment for you to take.

  • Immunotherapy for Stage III NSCLC
    • If a patient has Stage III lung cancer that is not treatable by surgery, both chemotherapy and radiation will be recommended. After this is completed, an immunotherapy drug can be given to help keep the cancer from growing or coming back.44
    • Currently, a PD-L1 inhibitor is available for Stage III NSCLC. It is used to treat unresectable, stage III NSCLC that has not progressed following chemoradiotherapy.44 Testing for PD-L1 status is not required prior to this treatment.45
  • Immunotherapy for Stage IV NSCLC
    • The drugs currently available for patients with Stage IV NSCLC include PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors.46 All of them require PD-L1 testing prior to the treatment.47




40. ASCO. Understanding Immunotherapy. Available at: https://www.cancer.net/sites/cancer.net/files/asco_answers_immunotherapy.pdf. Accessed: 2 May 2019.

41. NCI. Immunotherapy to Treat Cancer. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/immunotherapy. Accessed: 3 May 2019.

42. Cancer.Net. Understanding Immunotherapy. Available at: https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/how-cancer-treated/immunotherapy-and-vaccines/understanding-immunotherapy. Accessed: 3 May 2019.

43. ACS. Immunotherapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/treating/immunotherapy.html. Accessed: 3 May 2019.

44. LCA. Immunotherapy Treatments Approved for Stage III Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Available at: https://lungcanceralliance.org/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-options/immunotherapy/checkpointinhibitors/pdl1/stage3approval-3/. Accessed: 3 May 2019.

45. HOPA. Pharmacist's Applications to Practice: Durvalumab (Imfinzi) for Urothelial Cancer. Available at: http://www.hoparx.org/drug-updates-from-the-fda/durvalumab-imfinzi-astrazeneca-uk-limited. Accessed: 3 May 2019.

46. LCA. Immunotherapy Treatments Approved for Stage IV or metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Available at: https://lungcanceralliance.org/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-options/immunotherapy/checkpointinhibitors/pdl1/stage3approval-2/. Accessed: 3 May 2019.

47. Scheel AH, Schäfer SC. J Thorac Dis 2018;10(3):1217-1219.