November is Lung Cancer Awareness month. Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, with more than 2.1 million cases, according to the American Lung Association.
Advancements in lung cancer management, from early diagnosis through treatment are improving patient outcomes.
“Lung cancer is not a death sentence anymore,” says Dr. Rami Manochakian, a Mayo Clinic thoracic oncologist and lung cancer specialist. “There is a lot that can be done for patients with lung cancer.”
Historically, chemotherapy was the only available treatment for patients with advanced lung cancer. Now, newer and more effective therapies are available through a personalized approach.
“Every patient’s cancer tissue gets tested for biomarkers to look for actionable mutations or alterations that are believed to be the drivers of the cancer growth,” says Dr. Manochakian. “If we find one of these mutations, which we have many at this point that have FDA-approved drugs or FDA-approved therapies, we will give that particular patient this drug that is targeting that change or that mutation.”
The advancement in surgical and radiation therapies for early-stage lung cancer, as well as newer therapies for advanced lung cancer, such as targeted therapies and immunotherapy, are why Dr. Manochakian says it’s a new era.
“I would call it an era of hope for patients with lung cancer because we are able to cure lung cancer at an early stage and we are able to treat cancer at a later stage,” says Dr. Manochakian. “We’re in an era where we’re telling patients we have newer and better treatments that could help them live longer and live better.”