A Peter Mac-led international clinical trial has shown a new drug can dramatically improve outcomes for patients with advanced lung cancer, and supports its use as a first-line treatment.

The trial involved almost 300 patients with ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer – a type most commonly seen in the young and who have never or only ever lightly smoked.

All patients had received no prior treatment for their cancer which had spread elsewhere, and they were randomized to receive either the new drug lorlatinib or the current standard-of-care.

Lorlatinib patients were more likely to have their cancers shrink or become invisible on scans (76% in the lorlatinib group versus 58% for standard-of-care).

This was most marked in patients with hard-to-treat brain metastases, with 82% versus 23% showing these benefits.

Responses were also more durable and, when followed up more than 1.5 years after treatment, lorlatinib patients had a more than 70% reduced risk of death or their cancer getting worse.

Professor Ben Solomon presented these practice-changing results at the ESMO (European Society for Medical Oncology) Virtual Congress 2020 – held online due to COVID-19 – early on Sunday 20 September.

“Our study has confirmed lorlatinib leads to both more powerful and durable effects in these patients with advanced ALK-positive lung cancers compared to the current standard-of-care,” says Prof Solomon, who is a medical oncologist in Peter Mac’s Lung Service.

“There is also a notably potent response in patients with brain metastases, a group that often has a poorer outlook and for whom new treatment options are urgently needed.”

Lorlatinib was compared to the standard-of-care crizotinib, and both are in an emerging class of drugs known as ALK-inhibitors.

Lorlatinib was approved in August this year for second-line use, in cases where a patient’s ALK-positive cancer progresses after initial treatment.

“Our study indicates that lorlatinib is a highly effective treatment option for patients with newly diagnosed ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer,” Prof Solomon also said.

The CROWN Study was a Phase III trial and it involved patients recruited from 104 hospitals across 23 countries.


For more information or to arrange an interview with Prof Ben Solomon please contact the Peter Mac Communications team on 0417 123 048.

About Peter Mac:

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is one of the world’s leading cancer research, education and treatment centres globally and is Australia’s only public hospital solely dedicated to caring for people affected by cancer. We have over 2,500 staff, including over 650 laboratory and clinical researchers, all focused on providing better treatments, better care and potential cures for cancer.