ALK Positive and Biomarker Testing

When I was diagnosed my husband learned about biomarker testing while he was doing research online about lung cancer. So, when I had my appointment at a nearby cancer center and we met with the doctors my husband asked about this biomarker testing. They were aware of it and told my husband since our local hospital did a bronchoscopy, they were going to try to use those samples to determine if I had a gene mutation. Well, it wasn’t enough tissue, so I had a few bronchoscopies done in order to get enough tissue samples.

Learning I was ALK-positive

Once they gathered enough tissues it was sent off to the pathologist, but 7 years ago it took six weeks for me to get my results. I started my rounds of chemo and radiation while waiting for the results. Exactly six weeks later I found out I was ALK-positive and my husband began doing his research online and learned about targeted therapy for ALK-positive.

Knowing my biomarker status changes my treatment

If I would have received my results sooner, I could have avoided chemotherapy and radiation altogether. Six weeks is a long time to get results. Not sure if it still takes six weeks to get results back, but I want to say I don't think it does. If so, something needs to be done to get results sooner, it is very crucial. It will make a huge difference in someone's treatment and decision-making.

Seeking a second opinion

After my chemotherapy and radiation treatments, my husband and my sister took me to another well-known hospital for another opinion. There we learned that it was good that I was diagnosed with ALK-positive because there’s a targeted therapy that can help me live longer.

I started on Xalkorie and I was on it for about 3 months until I had progression. Now I’m on Zycadia for the last 6 years. I've had some progression with Zycadia, but for the most part, it has kept me stable.

Biomarker testing needs to be standard practice

I am so thankful for biomarker testing. It is VERY important for newly diagnosed patients to do biomarker testing. There are other opinions out there besides traditional chemotherapy and radiation.

Now ALK-positive has several targeted therapy and clinical trials as well. We just need to continue to work to make biomarker testing a standard procedure for newly diagnosed patients. I always make sure I do my part when a newly diagnosed patient reaches out to me and the first thing I tell them is, “Get a biomarker testing done ASAP. It can determine what type of treatment is best for you and help you live longer." I advise them if their doctor disagrees, to go seek a second opinion.

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