New Treatments for Lung Cancer Are Emerging

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Killing cancer with chemotherapy has been compared to lighting a candle with a blowtorch. You’ll definitely get that wick lit, but you’ll also render everything around the candle into smoldering heap of cinders.

Today, thankfully, that is changing. Advances in chemotherapy are allowing oncologists to target the disease without weakening the rest of the body. Patients feel better during treatment, they often don’t experience hair loss and they don’t suffer as much damage to their immune systems.

Even more so, advanced institutions are now using genomic profiling, or precision medicine, to provide further targeted approaches to cancer care.

This fall, Hoag Family Cancer Institute began applying precision medicine to the fight against lung cancer, testing lung tumors through the nationally recognized Caris Life Sciences laboratory to determine the most effective treatment option for each individual patient.

As the name implies, precision medicine works by honing in on the precise molecular mutations that create cancerous tumors. All tumors have molecular mutations in their DNA. By testing the molecular profile of the tumor cells, doctors can discover what mutations a particular tumor has and tailor a treatment specifically to that mutation.

Previously, patients who wanted access to precision medicine in lung cancer had to go to big academic centers. Now, it is right in their own backyard.

As the leading lung cancer center in the county, Hoag is piloting the precision medicine program for lung cancer patients, with plans to expand it to more areas of cancer treatment.

Each month, between 200 and 300 lung cancer patients are diagnosed and treated at Hoag. Through this pilot program, all of them will receive a lung tumor biopsy that will help direct their course of treatment.

As a member of the Caris Centers of Excellence for Precision Medicine Network, Hoag is able to compare tumor cell data with leading cancer centers at major academic research facilities across the United States, giving our patients access to the most advanced clinical trials and treatment options available today.

This means that our patients will know exactly what is causing their tumor and will have access to the precise treatment to fight it — even if that treatment is still being developed.

These newer medications can make a powerful difference in our patients’ lives and they will no longer have to travel far and wide to get the most state-of-the-art lung cancer care available.

DARYL PEARLSTEIN is program director of lung cancer at Hoag Hospital.

To view the original Daily Pilot article click here.