Dr. Melissa Johnson on Fox & Friends Discussing Immunotherapy in Lung Cancer – Sarah Cannon


lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. this year 1.8 million people will be diagnosed with lung cancer and now a new treatment could be a game-changer immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to fight the disease and in a recent trial it actually outperformed chemotherapy with way fewer side effects so what does this mean for the future of cancer treatment? Dr. Melissa Johnson is the Associate Director of Lung Cancer Research at Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville joins us live today good morning to you. thanks for having me Steve okay so you know a lot of people know about chemotherapy they’ve been through it they know somebody has been through it. this new approach is better than that because? that’s right it is better than chemotherapy. we think the way this type of new anti cancer treatment works is to upregulate the immune system to identify the cancer as foreign. you can think about it like here’s what we believe happens when a cancer is able to grow in someone’s body it is able to escape recognition by the immune system by the T-Cells the way these drugs work they up regulate the T-Cells they take the blindfold off the immune system the immune system recognizes that the cancer is foreign and shouldn’t be there and attacks so it’s using your own body to help fight the cancer. so it kind of tricks the body? absolutely, well. its tricks the body into allowing the drug to go in .the cancers is tricking the body and the immune system is sort of restoring reality that the cancer shouldn’t be there well that’s it is so clever. what kind of cancers can it help? so at this point immunotherapies and in particular nivolumab or opdivo® have been approved for the treatment of melanoma, kidney cancer and most recently a type of lung cancer called squamous lung cancer. the big news at this year’s annual meeting though was that this type of treatment can be used in both squamous lung cancer and non-squamous and non-squamous lung cancer or adenocarcinoma with an improvement in overall survival of three months versus regular standard chemotherapy docetaxel. see you know when you when you look at chemotherapy versus this immunotherapy you live a little longer, there are fewer side effects and I would imagine it’s easier to administer. well it is it’s given intravenously over 30 minutes once every other week, it doesn’t require that you come back for blood checks, it doesn’t require extra IV fluids, it doesn’t require any of the supportive services. so a lot of people are watching right now they’re gonna talk to their doctor about it what do they ask for? this is a immunotherapy they ask for nivolumab or another drug like it. we at Sarah Cannon have treated over a hundred patient or 800 patients on immunotherapy trials and we would encourage patients to ask for this drug or a clinical trial in which it is used fantastic news for a lot of people who are suffering from cancer. doctor thank you very much for joining us from Nashville thanks very much. all right