(Bloomberg) -- A blockbuster lung cancer drug from AstraZeneca Plc was found to improve survival by more than half in a subset of patients, boosting the company’s ambitions to widen its oncology portfolio across as many groups and indications as possible.

Tagrisso, Astra’s best-selling drug, reduced the risk of death in patients with an early-stage type of non-small cell lung cancer after tumor removal by 51%, according to results released at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago Sunday. The drug is already approved for use in the category, known as epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC, but the results could boost take-up.

Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer death, accounting for about a fifth of fatalities from the disease, and most patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage. The results may provide more incentive for early screenings in the knowledge there’s a treatment option available that significantly improves survival rates, according to the head of Astra’s oncology business.

“We really hope that this helps to galvanize early screening efforts,” said David Fredrickson in an interview. This data is important because it’s “bringing a precision medicine into an early stage of lung cancer.”

The Adaura trial involved 682 patients across more than 20 countries. Patients were given Tagrisso oral tablets daily or a placebo for three years, or until disease recurrence. Astra made $5.44 billion from sales of the drug last year.

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