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.