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Q&A: Can Targeted Therapies and Immunotherapies Treating Lung Cancer Stop Working?

Q&A: Can Targeted Therapies and Immunotherapies Treating Lung Cancer Stop Working?
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Published on April 15, 2016

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Question from Mary

“[Do] the newer treatments like the targeted treatment and immunotherapy… stop working, or [do] they have the potential to be used indefinitely?”

Answer from Dr. Rebecca Heist:           

So we always want to stay on something as long as it’s working. With the targeted therapies, I would say that there is a range. But, in general, we’ve seen that, at some point, resistance develops.  There’s a lot of progress being made in terms of how to target resistance, because the more we understand about why the cells are becoming resistant, and we’re learning more and more about that, the better we can develop drugs against them.  So I think, in that arena, in the targeted arena, we’re very used to talking about the first-line, targeted therapy, when resistance develops, and there are lots of drugs that actually work at resistance.

And we’re doing more to figure out how to better treat resistance down the line.  At some point, the hope with all of the research is that it can be maybe cocktails of therapy where you kind of delay the resistance even more to a time when you really are thinking it’s a really, really long time. And when do we ever say that it’s not coming back? 

We’re kind of cautious about that.  But maybe we can get to a time where it’s not coming back for a really long time.  And the infectious disease example of multiple drugs trying to target something is one paradigm to look at.  For the immunotherapy, it’s interesting.  There are some people where there seems to be much longer disease control than we would expect otherwise.  And there will be some people who just seem to be able to stay on it for a long, long time.  We don’t have enough experience in the number of years to say we’ve just kept it at bay completely.  But there does seem to be some interesting phenomenon going on there.

It’s not happening for enough people. And a lot of the work has to do with getting the initial response from our people and then getting a maintained response from our people as well.  So I think resistance is something—I think it’s always a little too premature to say that resistance won’t develop.

Cancers are pretty wily. And I have a healthy respect for how they kind of develop.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Featuring

Partners

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center LUNGevity Foundation

Sponsors

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Patient Empowerment Network
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