We are at a critical moment in lung cancer. In the US, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, accounting for approximately 150,000 deaths and representing roughly one-quarter of all cancer-related deaths in the nation.1 Further, just about only 20 percent of patients are alive five years after diagnosis in the US.2 These statistics are staggering and form the basis for why lung cancer is at the forefront of AstraZeneca’s research and development focus. We have the ambition to one day eliminate lung cancer as a cause of death – but we know we cannot do it alone. We’re proud to announce we’ve partnered with the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), the Global Lung Cancer Coalition (GLCC) and Guardant Health to form the Lung Ambition Alliance. Together we are taking urgent action to double five-year survival in lung cancer globally by 2025 – prioritizing research and projects that increase screening and early diagnosis, deliver potentially innovative treatments and improve quality care. We took some time to sit down with IASLC’s Dave Mesko, GLCC’s Maureen Rigney, Guardant Health’s AmirAli Talasaz and AstraZeneca’s Olivier Nataf to understand why the Lung Ambition Alliance is important and how it aims to change patient outcomes.
What is the Lung Ambition Alliance and why is it important?
Olivier Nataf, Vice President, US Oncology:
The Lung Ambition Alliance is a new signature partnership between AstraZeneca, IASLC, Guardant Health and GLCC, formed with the goal to one day eliminate lung cancer as a cause of death. Our first step toward this ambition will be to double five-year survival by 2025. Scientific advances are enabling new possibilities to transform diagnosis, treatment and the management of lung cancer. This progress has raised our optimism and energy to do more – and we feel the best way to accomplish this – is together.
Why have you assembled this group of partners?
Our four organizations represent several different facets of lung cancer management: the diagnostics, the treatments, the treaters and the advocates. Bridging the commercial and non-profit sectors provides distinct advantage. Our diverse perspectives enable us to identify needs more precisely, while our depth of resources and broad network provide us the capabilities and reach to amplify our impact. We hope that, over the course of time, other organizations will join us and help fuel the vision to end lung cancer-related death.
As we work to double five-year survival in lung cancer, where do you feel we should start?
Dave Mesko, Chief Executive Officer, International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer
All three of the Alliance’s priorities—screening, innovative treatments and quality care—are equally important. As an Alliance, we have the bandwidth and resources to attack lung cancer from each of these three angles. We believe we can bend the survival curve faster and improve outcomes for patients around the world by working simultaneously across these three pillars:
- Screening: We launched the Early Lung Imaging Confederation pilot program in September of 2018 to improve early lung cancer detection by establishing a large network of shared CT images. The four-month project showed the potential to bring significant improvements to lung cancer screening by creating a globally accessible, privacy-secured environment for the analysis of large collections of quality-controlled CT lung cancer images. The initial results support how the approach can assist in reversing the trend where lung cancer is overwhelmingly detected in a later stage when it is more difficult to treat.3,4
- Delivering innovative treatments: We are launching the Major Pathologic Response Program to prioritize the validation of surrogate endpoints and identification of predictive biomarkers to accelerate the delivery of innovative medicines. Together, we will enable a paradigm shift to earlier intervention when there is still a potential for cure.5
- Improving quality of care: The Alliance will be launching the Initiatives in Lung Cancer Care program later in 2019, inviting local patient organizations around the world to develop and submit pilot projects that have the potential to improve quality of care for lung cancer patients. We’re excited to see this progress.
What do you think is the biggest barrier to improving five-year survival in lung cancer?
AmirAli Talasaz, President and Chief Operating Officer, Guardant Health
We must accelerate progress with early detection and treatment to double five-year survival in lung cancer. There have been several major advancements recently that have raised optimism and enthusiasm, but barriers persist that are preventing a step change from happening. These include a lack of proper screening protocols, limited innovative treatment options, hindered access to quality care and the pervasive stigma associated with lung cancer. These are barriers we will work together to address.
Further, we need to continue to focus our efforts on precision medicine. Precision medicine is improving prognosis for some lung cancer patients, delivering better clinical outcomes and making prolonged survival a realistic goal. Precision approaches can be advantageous by minimizing treatment trial-and-error and providing better and more predictable clinical outcomes. At Guardant, we are developing minimally invasive ways to access detailed genomic information throughout all stages of a patient’s disease, allow doctors to diagnose and treat it earlier, and increase access to precision medicine.
Why should we care about lung cancer?
Maureen Rigney, Steering Committee Member, Global Lung Cancer Coalition
Lung cancer is a bigger issue than some may realize. It is the leading cancer cause of death, resulting in more deaths than breast, prostate and colorectal cancer combined.6 Approximately, forty percent of patients are diagnosed after the disease has spread beyond the lung, worsening their prognosis.7 There is no reason these rates must continue as they are. The Global Lung Cancer Coalition is comprised of 37 member organizations from 26 countries. We recognize that collaboration with the global and local lung cancer communities is critical to fighting this disease, and we so appreciate the opportunity to band together with others like us – working on behalf of patients in their own unique ways – to tackle some of the issues that have vexed our community for so long.
1Siegel RL, Miller KD, Jemal A. Cancer Statistics, 2018. CA Cancer J Clin. 2018;68:7-30.
2Cancer.Net. Lung Cancer - Non-Small Cell - Statistics. Available at www.cancer.net/cancer-types/lung-cancer-non-small-cell/statistics. Accessed June 2019.
3IASLC. IASLC Successfully Pilots Early Lung Imaging Confederation Project. Available at https://www.iaslc.org/news/iaslc-successfully-pilots-early-lung-imaging-confederation-project-0. Accessed June 2019.
4Jemal A, Fedewa SA. Lung Cancer Screening With Low-Dose Computed Tomography in the United States—2010 to 2015. JAMA Oncol. 2017;3(9):1278-1281.
5IASLC.org. IASLC Pathology Committee. Available at https://www.iaslc.org/research-education/iaslc-pathology-committee. Accessed June 2019.
6Cancer.org. Key Statistics for Lung Cancer. Available at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/about/key-statistics.html. Accessed June 2019.
7EpiCast Report: NSCLC Epidemiology Forecast to 2025. GlobalData. 2016.
US-30700 Last Updated 7/19