Lung Cancer’s Silver Lining

In 1962, Dr. Stanley Cohen published his first work describing the epidermal growth factor (EGF).  In 1986, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with EGF and its receptor (EGFR).  But, it took nearly 25 years before this knowledge was put into clinical practice.

At the end of 2007, a group of Japanese investigators discovered another molecular abnormality that is known as the EML4-ALK fusion.  Less than 3 years later, a drug had been developed and demonstrated its effectiveness in treating the group of patients affected by the EML4-ALK fusion.

We are at an exciting point in lung cancer research where we are learning a lot about molecular pathways and targets, etc.  The nature of what has been accomplished, especially recently, has been dramatic.

What has been discovered through research are treatments – not cures, not yet.  But, some lung cancer patients are finding that, with the treatments created as a result of research, they can manage their disease, enabling them to live a fulfilling life.

Targeted therapies: A return on your investment

The charts below, courtesy of Stephanie Cardarella, MD – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, represent the gains in knowledge about the genetic components of lung cancer from 1984 to 2009. During the intervening years, researchers were able to identify seven genotypes, or genetic components, of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the most common type of the disease. Each of these genotypes presents us with more and better options for treating NSCLC at the genetic level. These treatments are called targeted therapies, and they’re one of the most promising ways in which we now treat lung cancer patients.

Genetic biomarkers identified before 2003Genetic biomarkers identified by 2004Genetic biomarkers identified by 2009

The 2013 data presented below is courtesy of the Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium, the largest national initiative to prospectively examine non-small cell lung cancer tumors, and match patients to the best possible therapies. The chart below shows that, currently, eleven genetic mutations of lung cancer tumors have been identified.

Genetic biomarkers identified by 2013

It is through your investment in Lung Cancer Foundation of America that we can continue to fund the research that leads to these discoveries – and longer and better survivorship for our loved ones with lung cancer. We thank you, as do all of us affected by this disease. Together, we are making a real difference in diminishing the mortality rates of lung cancer.

Please consider donating to LCFA today by clicking the DONATE NOW button on the top of this page. We have a lot of work left to do, and we’ll do it… together. Thank you.