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What You Need to Know about Precision Medicine: A Guide

Last year, the FDA approved ten new drugs to treat lung cancer. Besides being indicated for lung cancer, the other characteristic that these drugs have in common is that they are all either targeted therapies or immune therapies.

What exactly are targeted and immune therapies? Targeted therapies specifically target mutations in a person’s tumor. Immune therapies harness the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. For some patients, traditional chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are still the best first-line treatment options, but for others, these newer targeted and immune therapies drugs are the best option based on the makeup of their tumor. This field is often called “precision medicine” or “personalized medicine.” This means that through testing a patient’s tumor for certain mutations or markers, physicians can match patients with a treatment that is specific to their cancer.

The growing field of precision medicine and subsequent drug approvals is one reason why the American Lung Association invested in more education about these topics. The general public is hearing words like “biomarker,” “mutation,” and “genomic makeup” more and more and, it can be confusing and even overwhelming.

In October 2018, the Lung Association hosted two panel discussions through the Tumor Testing and Transformation of Lung Cancer Treatment program with well-known experts. You can view the full recordings of both sessions at Lung.org/tumor-testing or follow this flow chart to be guided through the highlights of the panels.

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Once you better understand the terminology, move on to:

Who Is Eligible for Targeted and Immune Therapies?

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Now it is time to better understand the different ways tumors are tested for mutations and biomarkers. Learn about:

The Hospital's Role in Tumor Testing and What Is Next-Generation Sequencing?

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Take a moment to open your eyes about clinical trials:

Clinical Trials and Lung Cancer Biomarkers

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Learn what needs to happen to make sure all eligible patients get their tumors testing:

Raising Awareness of Lung Cancer Tumor Testing

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Before you go, read through the synopsis to make sure you didn't miss anything:

Tumor Testing and the Transformation of Lung Cancer Treatment Synopsis [PDF]

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Last step:

Share these resources

The more lung cancer patients and their families know about these topics, the more empowered they will feel to talk with their doctor about their options.

And next time you see a drug approval on the news, you might surprise yourself to realize how much you now understand.

Let's hope we see even more lung cancer drug approvals in 2019!

Just diagnosed with lung cancer? If you're not sure where to start or want to make sure you're asking the right questions, you can learn more about what to do after a lung cancer diagnosis.

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Related Topics: Health & Wellness, LUNG FORCE,

  • Carly Ornstein
    National Director, Lung Cancer Education
    American Lung Association
    Carly Ornstein joined the American Lung Association in 2012. Currently, she is the National Director of Lung Cancer Education for the American Lung Association.

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