Working to get more people with lung cancer closer to cure

“It’s back” – these are words that no person with cancer wants to hear and that every oncologist dreads having to say. Finding out the cancer is back, is a heart sinking moment for all involved.

“I thought it was gone. I thought I was the lucky one.”

Sadly, this is a situation far too common. Approximately half of people with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) experience their cancer coming back, despite surgery and chemotherapy.1,2 This risk of recurrence is often underestimated by both patients and their doctors.

“Living with the fear of cancer returning can be a huge psychosocial burden for people recovering from lung cancer surgery,” says Mark Brooke, CEO of the Lung Foundation of Australia.

Early intervention is key to success

Lung cancer is a complex and aggressive form of cancer. Diagnosing and treating it in the early stages can significantly reduce the risk of cancer returning and offer patients a chance to become cancer free.3,4 Yet compared with other cancer types, lung cancer research has seriously lagged in bringing effective treatments to early-stage disease.

Approximately six out of every 10 people with Stage II disease are told that their cancer is back within five years of surgery, despite adjuvant chemotherapy. And recurrence rates in patients with Stage III disease are even higher, with approximately seven out of every 10 patients experiencing recurrence.5

Even with the efforts of the finest surgeon, some cancer cells can remain undetected, with the risk that they can grow into new tumours later on. Use of chemotherapy after surgery can help reduce that risk, but for many people the survival benefit is modest compared with observation.6

We are determined to get closer to cure

Roche has committed to ‘mission cure’, with an extensive programme investigating the benefits of new cancer medicines and diagnostic solutions in the earlier settings. The ambitious goal is to hopefully prevent potential recurrence and give more patients a chance to come closer to cure.


  1. Uramoto H and Tanaka F. Recurrence after surgery in patients with NSCLC. Translational lung cancer research, 2014;3(4):242-249.

  2. Yano, T., Okamoto, T., Fukuyama, S. and Maehara, Y., 2014. Therapeutic strategy for postoperative recurrence in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. World Journal of Clinical Oncology, 5(5), p.1048.

  3. Cancer Research UK. Lung cancer risks becoming ‘forgotten disease’ of the coronavirus pandemic. [Internet; cited November 2020]. Available from:

  4. Blandin Knight, S., Crosbie, P.A., Balata, H., Chudziak, J., Hussell, T. and Dive, C., 2017. Progress and prospects of early detection in lung cancer. Open biology, 7(9), p.170070.

  5. Pignon JP et al. Lung adjuvant cisplatin evaluation: a pooled analysis by the LACE Collaborative Group. In Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-Assessed Reviews. J Clin Oncol. 2008;26(21):3552-3559.

  6. Liang, Y. and Wakelee, H.A., 2013. Adjuvant chemotherapy of completely resected early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Translational Lung Cancer Research, 2(5), p.403-410.

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