Lung Cancer

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Immunotherapy Has Changed The Game For Lung Cancer

Dr. Brendon Stiles Montefiore and Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Immunotherapy has been a game-changer for lung cancer, and now its use is being expanded to people with earlier stages of the disease.

“It’s amazing to me now that you can have stage four lung cancer and actually not even need chemotherapy,” said Dr. Brendon Stiles, a thoracic surgeon at Weill Cornell Medical Center. “If you have high expression of a protein that we know is targeted by immunotherapy, you may just get immunotherapy alone.”

Immunotherapy harnesses the power of a person’s own immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. It’s a really exciting area of development when it comes to treating lung cancer, and Dr. Stiles said professionals are hopeful that it can be developed into eventually being used to treat early-stage disease. “What people are most excited about is if you look out over the long-term and at survival, people talk about a plateau … it’s still early, but … people are at least raising the question: Can we see cures with immunotherapy and lung cancer?”

Dr. Stiles points out that within recent months, studies have started looking past using immunotherapy in only advanced cancers, and started testing its use in stage three lung cancers. The hope is that immunotherapy can eventually be used when treating patients with early-stage disease, after they’ve had surgery or chemo, or a combination of the two. “That’s really going to lead to survivors of this disease,” Dr. Stiles said.


Throughout medicine it’s common for physicians and researchers to share information about relationships they have outside their primary employment. Sharing this information in no way indicates that the work, or opinions, have been influenced or compromised, but rather ensures that these professionals, and their colleagues, adhere to the highest ethical standards. Dr Stiles has shared the following disclosures:

AstraZeneca/Medtronic: consultant/advisory boards
Lung Cancer Research Foundation: board
Pfizer/PPD: Wife receives stock and salary


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Dr. Brendon Stiles is a thoracic surgeon at Montefiore Health System. Read More