Genetic test may point to best treatment for each patient’s early lung cancer

February 14, 2012 | by City of Hope Staff

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 — significantly higher than the 1-year survival rate of 37 percent three decades ago.

 

Photo of Dan J. Raz Dan J. Raz

 

The 5-year survival rate, though, remains low at 16 percent. Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., and researchers like City of Hope’s Dan J. Raz, M.D., are looking for ways to change that. One of those ways may be by making sure that patients with early-stage lung cancer receive the treatment that’s most likely to eradicate their cancer.

Before recently joining City of Hope, Raz, assistant professor in the Division of Thoracic Surgery, 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.

Says 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 non-surgical treatment modalities in a more effective treatment plan.”

The American Cancer Society reports that more than half of patients reach the 5-year survival milestone when their lung cancers are diagnosed early before they metastasize and spread to other areas of the body. Only 15 percent of cancers are caught in this early stage.

 

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