Tell a Friend About Tumor Testing
(March 24, 2017)
This is a time of exciting new advancements in the fight against lung cancer. Some of these developments are so new, they're not familiar to patients and not always recommended by doctors. This means some lung cancer patients may not be aware of all the treatment options available to them. The American Lung Association is asking for your help! If you have a friend who has been diagnosed with lung cancer, tell them about tumor testing – a test that could mean new hope and more treatment options for your friend at this critical time.
The Lung Association is dedicated to providing the most up to date and best information and tools to lung cancer patients and caregivers. That's why we've launched a new awareness campaign, called "Tell a Friend about Tumor Testing." Tumor testing is a procedure that looks for certain mutations or biomarkers in lung tumors that may determine what is causing that tumor to grow. Results from these tests provides can inform treatment options like whether or not a patient is eligible for therapies that "target" some of these biomarkers and help stop or slow tumor growth, immunotherapy or certain clinical trials.
In the recent past, lung cancer was considered one disease, and treatment used a "one size fits all" approach. Most patients who weren't eligible for surgery received chemotherapy. However, recent scientific discoveries have made more personalized treatment strategies possible, including testing a tumor to see if a patient is a candidate for targeted therapy.
Patients share their stories
LUNG FORCE Hero, Lisa M., is happy and grateful she qualified for this new personalized approach. She appears with LUNG FORCE Hero, Jennifer N. and pathologist Dr. Mark Pool in a new video about tumor testing. At the age of 44, Lisa was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. Luckily, her doctors sent her lung tissue to be tested for biomarkers. The tests revealed that her tumor had a mutation called "EGFR" and she was able to go on a targeted therapy. Lisa responded very well to her therapy and now has no evidence of disease.
"I was fortunate that my doctor knew about tumor testing, but not every lung cancer patient is that fortunate," Jennifer says. Lisa remembers that she "didn't even know what questions to ask" her doctor. Their stories underscore the need to spread the word, so that more patients are asking their doctors about tumor testing.
Large research hospitals often do tumor testing automatically, but smaller community hospitals may not. This is alarming, when you consider that an estimated 80 percent of people receive care at a community hospital. Raising awareness of tumor testing, through efforts like "Tell a Friend," can bring new hope of these innovative treatments to these patients.
"Tumor testing and targeted therapy may not be for everyone, but it all starts with a conversation with your doctor," explains Dr. Pool. In that conversation, it's important that patients advocate for themselves and discuss a "comprehensive" test, which gives a fuller picture of the makeup of a person's tumor than tests that only look for certain biomarkers. It's also important to understand that not all patients or types of lung cancer are candidates for targeted therapy. The first step is to talk to your doctor.
You can help
You can make the difference in the life of a friend with lung cancer! Help us spread the word so that all lung cancer patients have access to the highest quality care by sharing our video on social media. And, if you have a friend who is facing a lung cancer diagnosis – be a friend, and tell them about tumor testing. Learn more at our new lung cancer portal: Lung.org/lung-cancer.