First, there needs to be enough tumor tissue available for testing. A “fine needle aspiration,” or “FNA,” biopsy may not provide enough tissue. A “core needle biopsy” is more likely to provide sufficient tissue for testing. If you had your tumor surgically removed, there likely will be enough tissue available for testing.
Secondly, you or a loved one need to advocate on your behalf and speak to your oncologist about having your tumor tested for molecular mutations. You may be required to undergo another procedure to obtain enough tissue, but the potential benefits of knowing the mutation status of your tumor may, in most instances, outweigh the risks of most biopsies. New gene mutations are regularly being discovered, and targeted therapies are being developed for these mutations.
Therefore, in order to take advantage of emerging therapies, and to maximize your treatment options, it is suggested that you request that your doctor order your tumor be tested for a wide range of gene mutations.
It is very important to insist on having comprehensive genetic profiling of your lung cancer tissue.
Some lung cancer patients report being told that there is no treatment option for them. If no biomarker testing has previously been done for these patients, the next step is to make sure to get the biomarker testing done, if at all possible. For more information:
- Don’t Guess Test – an initiative, supported by Lung Cancer Foundation of America, along with 15 other lung cancer advocacy organizations, aimed to expand awareness and educate patients about precision medicine and the importance of comprehensive biomarker testing in lung cancer.
- NCI-Designated Cancer Centers – NCI-designated cancer centers deliver cutting-edge cancer treatments to patients in communities across the United States. Find a center near you and make an appointment for a second opinion.
Should I be seeking a second opinion?
Because targeted therapy and tumor testing for lung cancer are still relatively new, some doctors may not be familiar with research and clinical trials available. It is very acceptable and strongly advisable to get a second opinion. There are lung cancer experts (thoracic oncologists) nationwide that are available to offer second opinions.