Thanks to advances in surgery and medicine, about 43 percent of men and women diagnosed with lung cancer today will still be alive a year after their diagnosis. This is significantly higher than the one-year survival rate of 37 percent three decades ago.
But the five-year survival rate remains low at 16 percent, and lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.
Dan Raz (Photo by p.cunningham)
But researchers like City of Hope’s Dan J. Raz, M.D., are looking for ways to change that. One way may be to make sure patients with early-stage lung cancer receive the treatment that’s most likely to beat their cancer.
Raz recently joined City of Hope as an assistant professor in the Division of Thoracic Surgery. Before that he was part of a University of California, San Francisco research team that developed a potential tool to customize treatment for early lung cancer patients. The tool is a genetic test that may predict which early-stage lung cancers are likely to be more aggressive and spread.
Said Raz: “There are tens of thousands of patients with stage 1 lung cancer diagnosed every year in the U.S., and currently the standard of care for these patients is surgery alone. The goal of this assay is to better predict the risk of lung cancer recurrence and death among these patients so that physicians can use chemotherapy, surgery and even nonsurgical treatment modalities in a more effective treatment plan.”
The new genetic test already is available through a Northern California company that partially supported the work, but further research is needed to determine which treatments will best help high-risk patients.
“This is a very exciting development to help with early-stage lung cancer patients, because it’s the first of its kind. It’s certainly not the last thing, but it’s an important first step,” Raz said.
At City of Hope, Raz will continue his research seeking ways to predict how early-stage lung cancer patients will respond to treatment and fare after it. He also plans to collaborate with other scientists to develop new treatments to improve lung cancer survival.