Each person’s genetic makeup is as unique as their fingerprint, and so is their cancer. Thankfully, advances in cancer research have led to more personalized, and effective, cancer treatment options. As a result, new therapies continue to be developed. Now, we just need to make sure patients know about them.
The gene is the basic physical unit of inheritance. Genes are passed from parents to offspring and contain the information needed to specify traits.
A mutation is a change in a DNA sequence. Mutations can result from DNA copying mistakes made during cell division, exposure to ionizing radiation, exposure to chemicals called mutagens, or infection by viruses.
With the advent of genomic testing, researchers have been able to identify unique gene mutations. These mutations cause cells to grow out of control and become cancerous. Not every type of cancer or mutation has a targeted treatment yet. However, the pace of the discovery of lung cancer mutations and personalized treatments for them has been breathtaking. New immunotherapies that help the body’s own immune system fight cancer are also contributing to tremendous progress against lung cancer. In 2020 alone, the FDA approved 13 new drug indications for people with lung cancer.
In 2020 alone, the FDA approved thirteen new drug indications for people with lung cancer.
Empowering patients through personalized cancer treatment
Upon being diagnosed with lung cancer, many patients don’t know what questions to ask. One that should be at the top of the list is whether their tumor has been sent for comprehensive biomarker testing and what the results are. Treatment options can often be personalized based on the results of this testing.
This information helps patients understand more about their disease and available treatments, including appropriate clinical trials, which can be life-saving. GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer’s LungMATCH program is a great resource for patients to discuss their biomarker testing results and treatment path one-on-one with a specialist, and learn about the options to discuss with their doctor.
Progress and persistence
While we have made extraordinary progress in recent years, we need to make sure resources are available for ongoing research so that personalized treatments continue to be developed. Above all, the healthcare community and cancer advocates must empower patients to ask for comprehensive biomarker testing of their cancer so they can receive the most effective treatment possible. Furthermore, we must ensure that health insurers allow patients access to the therapies that best treat their specific disease.
Lung cancer is leading the way in personalizing cancer treatment using comprehensive genomic profiling for personal treatment options. Personalized medicine is here to stay. As a result, the more we drive research, develop precision medicine and tailor treatments, the more we will transform survivorship for all cancers.
To find out more about lung cancer, visit www.go2foundation.org.
Bonnie Addario is Co-Founder and Board Chair at GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer.