Tumor Testing: Understanding Your Unique Lung Cancer

Listen to Dr. Mark Pool and lung cancer survivors, Lisa and Jennifer, talk about the importance of lung cancer tumor testing.

Jennifer: I was 36 years old when I was diagnosed with lung cancer, and I was told I had about 6 months to live.

Lisa: When the doctor told me that I had stage four lung cancer, it was quite a surprise. I did not expect that answer.

Jennifer: My youngest child was three years old when I was diagnosed. To think that she wouldn't remember who I was.

Lisa: When I was first diagnosed I was so overwhelmed, I didn't know what to think, I didn't know what my treatment options were, and I didn't even know what questions to ask the doctor.

Jennifer: I was fortunate that my doctor knew about tumor testing, but not every lung cancer patient is that fortunate.

Mark D. Pool: Tumor testing, sometimes known as molecular or biomarker testing, is an exciting advancement in lung cancer. When a tumor is biopsied or removed, pieces of the tumor can be sent to a lab, where it can be tested for specific mutations, or abnormal proteins that cause the cancer to grow.

If your cancer cells have one of these specific mutations, your doctor may recommend a targeted therapy for your tumor.

Jennifer: When I was originally diagnosed, the ALK mutation hadn't been identified yet. Luckily, when the mutation was discovered, my doctor had my tissue re-tested, and I did have the ALK mutation. I went on a targeted therapy, and it's worked really well for me.

Lisa: When my results came back, I found out that I tested positive for the EGFR mutation. After starting my targeted therapy, I was no evidence of disease within eight months. All the tumors were gone. I'm beyond grateful that my doctor's ordered tumor testing for me.

Mark D. Pool: Tumor testing and targeted therapy may not be for everyone, but it all starts with a conversation with your doctor.

Generously supported by AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim and Novartis.

Page last updated: September 13, 2021

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