Benefits of Biomarker Testing
This article may prove to be the most important information that you may read -- biomarker testing. Biomarker testing is how your oncologist can determine which chemotherapy or immunotherapy drug that your tumor(s) will respond too. Some of the main mutations they test for are:
Benefits of biomarker testing
Once any of these are identified your treatment options may change. Lung cancer is a difficult disease to diagnose because sometimes patients have no symptoms until they are stage IV. Luckily for us, biomarker testing can pinpoint what is causing tumors to grow but also to select a more targeted therapy for treatment. Biomarker testing using tissue from the actual tumor(s) tells your medical team if the primary tumor is in your lungs or traveled from another place.
The most important suggestion I have is you must initiate this conversation with your doctors; those giving you the diagnosis and any surgeons. The doctor testing you may be doing a CT guided biopsy and could possibly get a tissue sample that route especially if you don't have a tumor that is operable. Many times patients do not learn about their mutations or the existence of mutations until after they have started therapy. At that point, it may be too late.
The future of biomarker testing research
The FDA approved the first liquid biopsy for lung cancer which uses available DNA in the bloodstream for testing. Tumors deposit DNA material into the bloodstream and this DNA is then collected and analyzed allowing doctors to get a picture of any mutations and irregularities that may drive tumor growth. Liquid biopsies are one method to collect these DNA samples for testing and are a non-invasive, inexpensive, timely, and easily repeatable way to gather results.1
I give you the information about liquid biopsy because it is so new. According to researchers, more than 75% of lung adenocarcinoma patients have been found to have genetic alterations that doctors might be able to use to help inform treatment decisions2.
If we can identify these mutations, the more patients get the chance to live longer. Targeted therapy has done wonders for our lung cancer community. Many more people are living 10 or more years. A comprehensive list of specific targeted therapies based upon mutations identified from the biomarker testing can be found on Cancer.org's website. This list may not be all-inclusive as new therapies are being discovered all the time.
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.
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