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Advances in Molecular Testing Offer New Hope for Lung Cancer Patients
Date:4/3/2013

d IASLC member.

Similar to the testing done in breast cancer, matching a cancer patient's molecular profile with the appropriate targeted therapy provides individualized treatment options. The guideline answers important clinical questions, including:

  • When should testing be performed?
  • How should testing be performed?
  • Should other genes be routinely tested in lung cancer?
  • How should molecular testing of lung cancer be implemented?

"In the U.S. up to 20 percent of patients with lung adenocarcinoma, the most common type of lung cancer, will test positive for one of the two biomarkers," said Philip T. Cagle , MD, FCAP, medical director of Pulmonary Pathology in the Department of Pathology and Genomic Medicine at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, APLM editor, and CAP member.  "It is critical to identify these patients because they stand to benefit more from new targeted drugs than from conventional chemotherapy, and with fewer side effects."

For lung cancer survivor Richard Heimler , molecular diagnostic testing has meant five additional years with his family, including his daughter and son. After his initial diagnosis in 2004, Heimler had surgery to remove cancer tumors in his lungs and brain.  When multiple tumors returned in 2008, Heimler participated in a clinical trial to determine if he was a candidate for targeted therapies.

"After testing positive for the abnormal ALK gene, I began taking a targeted drug in the form of a pill," said Heimler. "It was wonderful to not experience the debilitating side effects that I had with chemotherapy.  This new world of science has given me hope that I will have more time to create memories with my children and watch them grow up."

In an era of precision medicine, the guideline provides re
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SOURCE College of American Pathologists
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