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Combination Therapy Approved for Treating Extensive-Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer

Roche’s Tecentriq® in combination with chemotherapy gains approval from Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

The global provider of pharmaceuticals and cancer treatments, Roche, announced the approval by HSA of its immunotherapy, Tecentriq® (atezolizumab) in combination with chemotherapy (carboplatin and etoposide) as first-line treatment of adults with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC).

Previously approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March 2019, it is the first treatment discovery in more than 20 years for ES-SCLC.

The approval by HSA is based on results from Roche’s Phase III IMpower133 study, which showed that the cancer immunotherapy helped SCLC patients live significantly longer compared to chemotherapy alone. Apart from Singapore and the U.S., the treatment has also been approved in Europe and China.

Dr. Ross Soo, Senior Consultant, Department of Haematology-Oncology, National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) added, “The approval of atezolizumab provides a new immunotherapy treatment option for patients in Singapore, giving renewed hope to those living with an aggressive disease that is extremely difficult to treat. While the existing prognosis for ES-SCLC remains dismal, we are now making great strides in improving quality of life and prolonging survival.”

From the IMpower133 study, the addition of atezolizumab with chemotherapy showed improvement in median survival from 10.3 months to 12.3 months, translating to 30 percent reduction in risk of death.

“Safety and tolerance of the new combination appeared similar with chemotherapy alone. My first patient who had been on atezolizumab for almost a year had his disease well under control and I am optimistic of the same health outcomes for other patients”, said Dr Lim Hong Liang, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, Parkway Cancer Centre.

A similar patient testimonial was presented by Dr Wong Chiung Ing, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, Parkway Cancer Centre, who added, “An elderly 72-year-old patient of mine has been on treatment on atezolizumab for advanced small cell lung cancer since April 2018. He has responded well, and his condition remains stable for the last two years.”

Commenting on this observation, Dr. Sivabalan Sivanesan, Medical Director of Roche Singapore, said “As the new first-line treatment in over 20 years, the availability of Tecentriq® enables Roche to redefine the standard of care for treating ES-SCLC. We are excited to renew a sense of hope for patients living with ES-SCLC and look forward to advancing survival rates and overall health outcomes.”

As lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer death worldwide, accounting for 1.76 million fatalities each year. SCLC is the most aggressive form of lung cancer that is able to metastasize quickly in the body.

“At the time of initial diagnosis, most patients with SCLC will have ES-SCLC. With this new cancer immunotherapy which will help to slow progression of the disease, the management of patients with ES-SCLC will be redefined since survival rates are largely dependent on early diagnosis and treatment. The addition of Tecentriq® to standard chemotherapy maintained minimal side effects which demonstrates that Tecentriq® is fairly well tolerated, said Dr Wong Seng Weng, Medical Oncologist, The Cancer Centre. [APBN]