Lung cancer, patients prefer subcutaneous immunotherapy

Lung cancer, patients prefer subcutaneous immunotherapy


An injection under the skin is better than an intravenous infusion. Patients with non-small cell cancer being treated with atezolizumab have no doubts, as demonstrated by a study just presented at the recently concluded European Lung Cancer Congress in Prague. Subcutaneous treatment can make a significant difference for people with cancer, reducing infusion-related discomfort and saving valuable time and resources. Not only for patients, but also for the healthcare system.

The results

The study showed that 70.7% of patients involved preferred subcutaneous atezolizumab versus 21.1% who preferred the intravenous formulation. The rest of the participants did not express any preference. The main reasons for preferring the subcutaneous option included: less time spent in clinic (64.4%), administration was more comfortable (46.0%), and treatment was less emotionally stressful (29.9%). ). Furthermore, during the continuation period, 79.4% of the 107 patients chose subcutaneous treatment compared to 20.6% of those who chose the intravenous formulation.

“The use of subcutaneous atezolizumab has provided significant benefits to patients and institutions, and these results support all previous conclusions that subcutaneous atezolizumab is equivalent to intravenous use,” he explained Federico CappuzzoDirector of the UOC Medical Oncology 2, National Cancer Institute “Regina Elena” in Rome, main author of the study.

The drug and the new formulation

Atezolizumab is a monoclonal antibody directed against PD-L1, the molecule that tumor cells use to turn off the action of the immune system. By binding to PD-L1, the antibody helps our defenses recover their role and fight tumors. Unlike the intravenous formulation, in the subcutaneous formulation atezolizumab is combined with an enzyme that degrades hyaluronic acid, which ultimately promotes the absorption of the drug into the blood. In January 2024 the European Commission approved this new formulation, but in Italy Aifa has not yet negotiated reimbursement.

How it is administered

The subcutaneous preparation does not need to be prepared under sterile conditions and can be prepared on the ward faster than can be done in the hospital pharmacy. In any case, administration today must take place in a hospital environment, with a saving of time not only in administration but also in preparation. “The hope is that in the future it can be not only authorized but also used at home by specially trained healthcare personnel,” concludes Cappuzzo.


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