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Biomarker Testing

Have you received biomarker testing or discussed biomarker testing?

  1. My partner had two.

    The first was conducted on the tissue sample obtained from her biopsy in early January. It turned up nothing that would have made her a candidate for a targeted therapy.

    The second was on a blood sample taken when she was admitted to the hospital and was paid for by a drug company conducting a clinical trial.
    She spent a week in the hospital and received 5 days of radiation to shrink her brain mets. On the final day of treatment, she had a meeting with her “team” and was told there was nothing more that could be done for her. She could return home or go to a hospice and receive palliative care.

    On the day before she was to be released, I call from a nurse on her floor. Her oncologist had visited and announced that there might be a treatment for her. He would call and explain.

    Turns out he had just received the results from the blood test . it had turned up a mutation on axon 19 of the EGFR gene. He would start her on a drug that targeted that mutation the next day. She’s been on it for about 8 weeks now. She had a CT scan at the end of last month, and although it was not hi-res., the primary tumour appeared to be shrinking. So far there’s no indication the brain mets are growing back. She remains lucid and ambulatory, though still quite fatigued.

    1. In some cases liquid biomarker testing is covered, but not always. Tissue is still considered the best way to go, but in her case, it was the opposite. Many researchers are working to improve less invasive diagnostic tests (like blood and sputum). May I ask if she is being treated at a major comprehensive cancer center or a local regional hospital? I'm quite surprised that the doctor was so quick to "write her off" at first, as there are many options available now, with or without biomarkers. I was diagnosed 21 years ago, had surgery and chemo. I was diagnosed by needle biopsy, as the tumor was able to be reached that way so I have not had to have a bronchoscopy. There was no such thing as biomarkers then. In 2014 my doctor took my original tumor from the surgery in 2000 and had it tested and that is how I found out I was EGFR Exon 19. Take care, and know that we are here for you both. All the best, Alisa, Team

    2. “May I ask if she is being treated at a major comprehensive cancer center or a local regional hospital?”

      The former.

      The problem was, her cancer was diagnosed at a very advanced stage, with brain mets. By the time she was admitted, she had become paralyzed on one side. At that stage, there were only two options for treatment that would have offered her much hope: a targeted therapy or immunotherapy. The first had been ruled out because the hospital tests didn’t turn up any appropriate biomarkers. As for immunotherapy, it is only offered in our province on an out-patient basis – that didn’t seem possible given the physical condition she was in at the time.

  2. Looks like that EGFR drug is working for her. Let's watch and wait. How is the site-effects for her? Christine Moderator

    1. So far, nothing major, knock on wood. Very low energy, still, and some diarrhea, both are common according to the literature.

  3. BobinTO, Although there is some clinical trials, generally EGFR lung cancer patients are not suitable for immunotherapy. Targeted therapy is a way to go. Are you from Canada? I'm a Canadian. After several months, things will be settled down. Christine

    1. I received testing early in my diagnosis of Stage IV non small cell adenocarcinoma. In fact, after being found in hospital setting June 10, 2020. Pulmonary Doctor referred me to Oncologist. Got appointment ASAP. First visit set plan of chemotherapy.Bloos draw was sent out for special testing…within a month and three chemo treatments….he changed chemo by removing one Med in prep for EGFR axon 19 taregeted therapy with Tagrisso ( pill a day)….third CT after diagnosis…my tumor has reduced in size by 2/3, nodules in three other areas have disappeared. Minimal side effects…I feel good and blessed!

      1. Hi there, just saw this update, it's great to hear your tumor had such reduction! Wishing you all the best! Warmly, Alisa

      2. amazing! Responses like this give me such hope for my mother who just found out she had a mass in her lungs

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