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Oncologist promotes EGFR-targeted therapy

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | | Updated: 2021-08-03 15:14
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A leading oncology expert on July 31 urged early- and middle-stage lung cancer patients to undergo EGFR-targeted therapy to reduce the risk of recurrence and brain metastasis after surgery.

According to Lu Shun, director of the department of oncology at the Shanghai Chest Hospital Affiliated with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, chemotherapy, which is the most common postoperative treatment method, may raise the five-year survival rate of early- and middle-stage lung cancer patients by only 5 percent.

Chemotherapy has also been found to have little effect in preventing recurrence and brain metastasis.

"Compared with chemotherapy, EGFR-targeted therapy boasts better precision, higher efficiency and lower toxicity. With a special mechanism, it lowers the risk of recurrence, brain metastasis and death by 80 percent and that of central nervous system relapse and death by 82 percent," he said.

Lu made the comments during a media interview about EGFR-targeted therapy, which received approval from the National Medical Products Administration in April.

Medical experts have said that although up to 30 percent of patients with non-small cell lung cancer can be diagnosed and cured at an early stage, recurrence remains common. Non-small cell lung cancer account for over 85 percent of lung cancer cases.

Without adjuvant treatment, nearly half of lung cancer patients relapse or die within five years. About 68 percent of early-stage lung cancer patients also develop tumor metastasis after surgery, according to experts.

The function of EGFR, the epidermal growth factor receptor, is to put the brakes on cell growth, experts explained. In non-small cell lung cancer, the mutation of EGFR leads to a proliferation of cells which forms fatal tumors.

Apart from postoperative adjuvant treatment, early screening and diagnosis are also vital for patients to survive the disease, doctors added.

This is especially important for people aged over 40, heavy smokers, those long exposed to cigarette ash or kitchen smoke, and those with a family history of chronic lung disease or lung cancer, said Lu.

He pointed out that China is now at the cutting edge of minimally invasive thoracic surgery, the most used and most effective operation for early and middle stage lung cancer patients.

"For early-stage patients with tumors less than 1 centimeter, the five-year survival rate can reach 90 percent after surgery", he said.

Li Yange contributed to this story.

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