AstraZeneca says Imfinzi is the first immunotherapy to show significant overall survival in a curative lung cancer treatment setting.

The drug giant released new data from the Phase III PACIFIC trial showing a 32 percent reduced risk of death in patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) receiving the drug versus those given the standard of care.

The data also re-affirm an 11.2-month improvement in progression-free survival compared to current standard treatment.

“This is one of the most important studies into lung cancer treatment for the past 20 years. For the first time it shows that immunotherapy can markedly improve survival in stage III NSCLC, when used after chemotherapy and high radiotherapy,” said Dr Sanjay Popat, consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden NHS Trust.

The PACIFIC data fundamentally change how we should treat this difficult disease when there is still a chance of curing the patient”.

The data bring “new hope to patients in a setting where survival rates have not changed in decades,” added Sean Bohen, executive vice president, Global Medicines Development and chief medical officer at AZ.

"We are already seeing the benefits immunotherapies are having on stage IV patients, both lengthening and improving their quality of life. This study suggest that stage III patients can also benefit from immunotherapy, which would be a significant step forward to improving long-term survival,” said Paula Chadwick, chief executive of the Roy Castle Foundation.

Around 38,000 people are diagnosed with the NSCLC in the UK every year, of which 20 percent have stage III disease.

Data from the PACIFIC trial were published just one day after European regulators approved use of Imfinzi (durvalumab) as monotherapy to treat stage III NSCLC patients whose tumours express PDL1 on ≥1% of tumour cells and whose disease has not progressed following platinum-based chemotherapy and radiation therapy (CRT).