What Are Lung Cancer Tumor Mutations?

Justin F. Gainor, M.D., explains lung cancer tumor mutations in this clip from our expert panel discussion on tumor testing.

Video Transcript

What are lung cancer tumor mutations?

Here I use the analogy of a light switch for my patients. For many of the genes that we’re looking at these are present in normal cells. And when there’s a genetic mutation in them at specific points, it changes the function of the light switch. So normally these are under control: Turn it on, it tells the cell to grow. Turn the light switch off, it says top growing. The problem with these genetic mutations is that the change results in the light switch constantly being on. So it changes the function of that particular gene so the cell is constantly being told to grow grow grow. Now, we can take advantage of that therapeutically. By delivering targeted medicines that actually shut off that signal. But it’s just like a lock and key. You have to have the right genetic change and pair it with the right therapy.

For more information and to see the full recorded discussion, visit

Generously supported by AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Foundation Medicine, Pfizer, and Merck & Co., Inc.

Page last updated: March 22, 2020

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