PETER MacCallum Cancer Centre medical oncologist Professor Ben Solomon said lung cancer affects about 12,000 Australians each year.
And kills more people than any other cancer type — more than 8000 deaths.
Which accounts for 19 per cent of all our cancer-related deaths.
Lung cancer doesn’t discriminate; it affects men, women, smokers, non-smokers, young and old.
Opdivo(Nivolumab) belongs to a new class of treatments called immunotherapies that work by targeting the immune system to make it work more effectively against cancers.
‘‘In lung cancer patients, about one in five will respond to Opdivo and while there are some long-term responses, the cancer can come back after treatment so it would be premature to call it a cure,’’ Prof. Solomon said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said more than 4500 Australians will benefit each year from the listing of Opdivo for lung and renal cancer on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
The PBS listing means patients will pay a maximum of $38.80 per treatment phase for the medicines, with concessional patients paying just $6.30.
Without subsidy, the medicine would cost a patient more than $130,000 per year.
‘‘It is a significant new treatment which can extend life as well as improve quality of life for patients, and it is more effective and safer than current therapies,’’ Mr Hunt said.
‘‘At a cost of around $1.1 billion, it is one of the largest-ever listings on the PBS.’’