An ‘earth-shattering’ lung cancer pill can slash the risk of the disease returning by more than 70 per cent and cut the likelihood of dying within five years of treatment in half, research shows.

Striking data, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, have led cancer specialists to refer to the drug, called osimertinib, as ‘groundbreaking’.

The pill is approved by US drug chiefs for those with a genetic subtype of lung tumor, which affects some 60,000 patients.

These tumors are driven by a genetic mutation that triggers the release of a protein called EGFR, which helps tumors to grow.

Lung cancer was previously thought to be a 'smoker's disease', but the discovery of genetic dispositions to the condition has shed light on a new patient group

Lung cancer was previously thought to be a 'smoker's disease', but the discovery of genetic dispositions to the condition has shed light on a new patient group

Lung cancer was previously thought to be a ‘smoker’s disease’, but the discovery of genetic dispositions to the condition has shed light on a new patient group

 But osimertinib, sold under the brand name Tagrisso, interferes with signals sent by the gene, blocking the release of the protein and destroying the cancer cells.

Dr Faiz Bhora, chief of thoracic surgery and central region chair of surgery at Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey told Fox News Digital that the drug’s trial results were ‘earth-shattering.’

‘In the past, medical oncologists were happy with five percent or 10 percent survival — and now we’re talking about in excess of 50 percent improvement in survival.’

Bhora, who prescribes the medicine to his patients, said he’d seen ‘groundbreaking’ results in his own practice.

‘We now have a lot of targeted therapies that work well for patients who have mutations in their tumors,’ he said.

Thoracic surgeon Dr Faiz Bhora says he's seen 'groundbreaking' results of the drugs in his patients

Thoracic surgeon Dr Faiz Bhora says he's seen 'groundbreaking' results of the drugs in his patients

Thoracic surgeon Dr Faiz Bhora says he’s seen ‘groundbreaking’ results of the drugs in his patients

Roughly 238,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed every year in the US – and 127,000 people die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. 

Some 25 percent of these patients have the EGFR mutation.

Dr Bhora said: ‘We used to think of lung cancer as just a smoker’s illness. Now, we know that over 30 percent of individuals who develop lung cancer have never smoked, and a lot of them are women.’

Those who are eligible for osimertinib – which can be taken for as long as it keeps working – include EGFR patients at any stage of the disease, who have undergone prior treatment such as surgery.

Around 95 per cent of insurance plans cover Tagrisso including Commerical, Medicare and Medicaid. 

One patient to benefit is 67 year-old Kim Mosko, from New Jersey.

In February 2023, the mother of two underwent surgery to remove a lung tumor that had grown outside of the organ.

Around 95 per cent of insurance plans cover Tagrisso including Commerical, Medicare and Medicaid.

Around 95 per cent of insurance plans cover Tagrisso including Commerical, Medicare and Medicaid.

Around 95 per cent of insurance plans cover Tagrisso including Commerical, Medicare and Medicaid.

She then had four rounds of chemotherapy, which finished at the end of June.

In July, her doctors spotted the genetic mutation and suggested she took Tagrisso.

She needed ‘no persuasion at all’ to start the treatment, she told Fox, which is covered by her insurance.

Mrs Mosko has now been taking the pill for three and a half months, and she hopes to take it everyday for the next three years.

‘I don’t need to have hope. I absolutely believe that this medication is going to make sure the lung cancer will not return. I am planning on living for many more years,’ she said.

She has suffered some ‘manageable’ side effects, including a skin rash, diarrhea and fatigue.

67 year-old Kim Mosko has been taking the drug since July and says it has kept her cancer at bay

67 year-old Kim Mosko has been taking the drug since July and says it has kept her cancer at bay

67 year-old Kim Mosko has been taking the drug since July and says it has kept her cancer at bay

 Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. One in six people will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime in the US.

A recent report by the ACS found that young women are suffering higher rates of lung cancer than men. 

Men were nearly twice as likely as women to develop the disease in the 1980s, driven by higher smoking rates and workplace exposure to substances like asbestos.

But with declining cigarette use and safety regulations, the pattern has flipped, with young and middle-aged women now being diagnosed with the disease at higher rates than men.

There were around 65 new cases of lung cancer for every 100,000 people in 1992 and by 2019 this had come down to about 42.

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