November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2020 in the UK. According to the NHS, lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world, with around 44,000 new cases diagnosed in the UK each year. These staggering statistics show the importance of cancer research and awareness. Reducing the risk of developing lung cancer and improving treatment is crucial to support the lives of patients.
A person’s risk of developing lung cancer depends on factors including lifestyle, age, genetics exposure to chemicals and air pollution. Older age is one of the main risk factors for developing lung cancer. More than 4 out of 10 people diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK are aged 75 and older. This is because as people get older, the respiratory system undergoes changes due to the ageing process.
The major causes of lung cancer
There are many preventable risk factors that lead to lung cancer. Smoking plays a big part in the cause of lung cancer with 72% of lung cancer cases linked to exposure to tobacco smoke. People who smoke tobacco directly and those who inhale environmental tobacco smoke are at a high risk of lung cancer. The duration and amount of smoking contribute to the cause of the disease, with duration having the most effect on risk. Smoking is more strongly linked with the risk of developing small cell lung cancer and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) than other types of lung cancer.
A person’s occupation can cause risk of lung cancer. 13% of lung cancer cases are caused by workplace exposures. Asbestos, silica, diesel engine exhaust and other occupational exposures, while are not significant causes of lung cancer themselves, can increase the risk of the disease when combined with other risk factors.
Approximately 8% of lung cancer cases are caused by air pollution. Research shows that the risk of death caused by lung cancer is greater in people living near major roads. This is closely linked to the occupational risk caused by those who are highly exposed to diesel exhaust emissions. Indoor air pollution is linked to people who use coal at home for cooking or heating.
Treatments for lung cancer
Treatments of lung cancer are mostly used in combination with one another and can change through the patient’s lifecycle depending on how well the cancer is responding to the treatment.
Radiotherapy - Radiotherapy is the most common and effective treatment for non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). X rays destroy cancer cells while avoiding non-cancerous cells. It can also be used for small cell lung cancer when chemotherapy is unsuitable.
Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy is the main treatment for small cell lung cancer (SCLC)and is also used for non-small cell lung cancer. It uses drugs to target cancer cells before the need for surgery or radiotherapy. It can also remove cells after surgery or to prevent a recurrence.
Surgery - Surgery is most suitable for removing early lung cancer. The two ways to do this are using open surgery or via video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery. Clinical trials into the effectiveness of both surgeries are currently being conducted.
Targeted cancer drugs/Immunotherapy - Targeted drugs work by seeking out and destroying cancer cells. Immunotherapy drugs help the immune system to destroy cancer. Targeted drugs can be used for more advanced cancers and in conjunction with other types of cancer treatment.Common drugs used to treat lung cancer include either 2 or 3 drugs given together, or 1 drug given by itself.
Some common drugs include:
Carboplatin or cisplatin (both are available as generic drugs) Docetaxel Gemcitabine Nab-paclitaxel Paclitaxel Pemetrexed Vinorelbine
Immunotherapy, is designed to boost the body`s natural defences to fight the cancer. For example, the PD-1 pathway may be very important in the immune system’s ability to control cancer growth. Blocking this pathway with PD-1 and PD-L1 antibodies has stopped or slowed the growth of NSCLC for some patients. The following immunotherapy drugs block this pathway:
Atezolizumab Durvalumab Nivolumab Pembrolizumab
Importance of lung cancer clinical trial participation
Clinical trials are an essential part of lung cancer research. People living with lung cancer can volunteer to participate in clinical trials to help progress research into the disease. Clinical trials are not limited to researching treatments for lung cancer. Clinical trials also conduct research into causes of lung cancer, early diagnosis and screening, and living with lung cancer.
How CSI can advance your Lung Cancer Clinical Trials
At CSI, we have worked on many oncology studies. We have sourced thousands of vials of the medicines mentioned above and successfully distributed them all over the world. We have well-established relationships with all leading manufacturers and as such we can provide cost-efficient and timely solutions and design a robust supply chain to advance your trial.