How would you describe the current situation regarding the management of lung cancer patients in China?
Lung cancer is a considerable issue in China. Every year, we have 700,000 new cases. There is a need to perform clinical trials and to launch innovative drugs. With regard to the introduction of targeted therapies, China lags 3 to 4 years behind when compared to the western countries. Two months ago, the EGFR TKI afatinib was launched, offering Chinese patients with EGFR-mutant lung cancer an effective treatment option. I hope that China can catch up over the next few years, and that drugs such as immune checkpoint inhibitors will become available. Other drugs targeting rare mutations including c-MET, HER2 and RET are being explored in clinical trials, in which Chinese centres are participating.
Which are the hurdles in everyday practice?
All of the targeted agents are very expensive for Chinese patients, because people in China are required to pay this type of treatment themselves. This is the reason why many lung cancer patients could not make use of targeted therapies so far. Hopefully, these drugs will be reimbursed by the Chinese health care system in the near future. Also, it would be welcome if the pharmaceutical companies reduced drug prices.
What activities is the Chinese Society of Clinical Oncology (CSCO) engaging in?
CSCO is one of the biggest medical societies in China. At present, it has more than 10,000 members. The CSCO Annual Meeting takes place every year in September. This year, we will be celebrating our 20-year anniversary, as CSCO was founded in 1997. The Annual Meeting will take place in Xiamen from 26th to 30th September. CSCO has conducted numerous clinical trials and is putting a focus on education. Clinical practice guidelines for the management of various cancer types such as lung cancer, gastric cancer and colorectal cancer have been published this year. I hope that CSCO will guide the Chinese oncology forward in the future and will determine standards of treatment for all types of cancer.
Yi-Ling Wu at the ASCO congress
Yi-Long Wu, president of the Chinese Society of Clinical Oncology, discusses his society’s collaboration with memo inOncology, and the approval of afatinib for EGFR+ NSCLC in China.