Immunotherapy treatment may eliminate squamous cell cancer

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. This year, an estimated 221,000 people will receive diagnoses, including many here in Illinois. These victims often face severe symptoms, including respiratory problems, infections, fatigue and weakness, as any Social Security lawyer knows. Fortunately, a new drug shows potential to treat one form of lung cancer and improve long-term outcomes for patients.

Unprecedented results

The drug, which is produced under the name Opdivo, aids the immune system in attacking cancer. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Opdivo inhibits a cancer protein that normally prevents the immune system from recognizing tumors. This drug, which already is used to treat melanoma, has recently received FDA approval as a treatment for squamous cell cancer. This cancer accounts for about one-quarter of U.S. lung cancer cases.

Clinical trials of Opdivo have yielded promising results, according to The New Hampshire Register. In one trial, the drug eliminated cancer in 17 percent of patients. One patient saw results within one month, even though his cancer had spread to the liver. The treatment offered similar success for another patient who could no longer undergo chemotherapy.

These results indicate that this new treatment for squamous cell lung cancer may present one of the most effective options currently available. Researchers hope the drug will eventually prove similarly potent against other cancers.

Disabling cases

Unfortunately, when lung cancer treatments don’t prove effective or feasible, patients may face significant health complications. These may interfere with work and other aspects of daily life. As a result, many victims may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

As a Social Security lawyer could explain, the Social Security Administration considers numerous cancers severe enough to merit benefits. The following cases are automatically recognized as disabling:

  • Small cell lung cancer — people diagnosed with this condition qualify medically for SSD benefits.
  • Non-small cell carcinoma — this cancer qualifies as disabling if it is spreading, persistent, inoperable or otherwise impossible to remove.
  • Cancer of the superior sulcus — this cancer is considered disabling if multiple forms of treatment have failed.

In other cases, the SSA may award SSD benefits for lung cancer after evaluating how cancer affects a person’s ability to work. The SSA may consider various debilitating symptoms, including fatigue, respiratory insufficiency or adverse effects of treatment.

The victims of certain forms of lung cancer may also be eligible for expedited claim processing under the Compassionate Allowances program. Small cell carcinoma qualifies for the program, as does severe non-small cell lung cancer. As any Social Security lawyer can explain, the SSA requires minimal evidence and reaches much faster decisions when evaluating these claims.