Genetic Testing For Lung Cancer Treatment

​Genetic Testing

Lung Tumor

Changing the Landscape of Lung Cancer Treatment

Using the molecular profiles of lung cancer tissue samples physicians at The Regional Cancer Center are personalizing treatments for their patients like never before. Today results of molecular profiling can contraindicate chemotherapy all together in favor of kinase inhibitors, the most common of which is a targeted oral agent called Tarceva.

Every lung cancer has a specific molecular profile. When certain profiles are identified within patients they are the best predictor of the most effective treatment. For patients with advanced metastatic disease, i.e. 80 – 85% of diagnosed lung cancers, molecular profiling is of benefit. Approximately 20% of lung cancers screened present with a profile that is shown to benefit from treatment that is not chemotherapy.

Benefits of this alternative therapy include enhanced quality of life, fewer side effects and better outcomes. An added benefit is lower cost.

“Pending research is changing the landscape of lung cancer treatment,” says Jan Rothman, MD, Director of the Multidisciplinary Thoracic Cancer Clinic at The Regional Cancer Center. “Provocative molecular studies are rewriting the way we diagnose and treat these patients. New opportunities are just exploding in lung cancer.”

New opportunities are a welcome change with a patient population that is very challenging. With traditional chemotherapy for lung cancer these patients’ lifespan could be extended by months. By considering patients’ disease biology and using targeted therapies when indicated, outcomes are improving.

RCC’s affiliation with UPMC CancerCenter facilitates access to related research. UPMC’s active participation in the national Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium plays a fundamental role in bringing these leading edge treatment  opportunities to patients.

Closer to home Rothman sites RCC’s thoracic clinic team as fundamental to the current process and plans to further expand use of these screenings and treatments. “The tissue sampling is a critical component at diagnosis and the pathologists’ analysis of the molecular signature is pivotal. As oncologists the expertise of our colleagues and our ability to collaborate with them is essential to bringing the best treatment opportunities for our  patients,” he says.

Many other drugs in clinical trials now are using this approach.

“With our multidisciplinary team in place and UPMC CancerCenter collaboration,” says Rothman, “we aren’t waiting until research is complete and accepted by insurance providers -- we are participating in the ongoing research bringing these new strategies here to RCC now so our patients don’t have to travel to receive them.”

Article appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Inside RCC.