Giving immunotherapy before surgery for cancer treatment may establish a new standard of care, Elizabeth Tracey reports


An immunotherapy agent called nivolumab given before surgery in people with lung cancer dramatically lengthened the interval before cancer returned, a new study shows. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, is thrilled.

Nelson: Will we slowly but surely get to point where the treatments are good enough that maybe you don’t need the surgery at all. This is potentially transforming it’s already going to pay off, this is going to be the way people will get treated. Very exciting. :12

Nelson says this strategy has been on deck for some time.

Nelson: People have thought of this before. It’s always you need to get that surgery done as quickly as possible to remove as much of the cancer as you could. And then for those people in whom there was no evidence of cancer but you knew they were likely to have the cancer come back that you’d chase after that with hormonal therapy or chemotherapy or some combination. After a while they figured out that it was just as effective to give before the surgery as after the surgery.  :21

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.