WSFA/NBC - There's new hope out there for people battling lung cancer. It's the number one killer when it comes to cancer and now doctors say immunotherapy could be the new standard when it comes to treating cancer patients.
Many patients are diagnosed after the disease has spread.
"Pretty much every patient with lung cancer will be getting immunotherapy as part of their frontline therapy," said Dr. Roy Herbst, with the Yale Cancer Center.
Researchers say a drug called Keytruda, when combined with standard chemo, cut the risk of dying in half, compared to just chemo treatment alone. Patients in the study had advanced non-small cell lung cancer. That's the most common type. The findings could lead doctors to use immunotherapy as a first line treatment for lung cancer, despite its hefty price tag of $13,000 a month.
"We're going to have to find ways to pay for these drugs, but I think if we're more personalized in how we use them, I think we'll be even more effective, and hopefully with years of life saved, the cost could go down," said Herbst.
A separate study looked at some other immunotherapy drugs. They worked better than chemo at slowing the cancer's progression, but it's still unclear if they allow people to live longer. Doctors presented the research
Monday at a conference of the American Association for Cancer Research in Chicago.