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Far too often, people make the mistake of assuming that lung cancer only affects people who smoke, but the disease can affect anyone. In fact, approximately 10 percent of patients with lung cancer have never smoked and approximately 50 percent of newly diagnosed lung cancer patients have already quit smoking.
Until recently, the “one-size-fits-all” approach was the standard way to treat lung cancer patients. However, there are several different types of the disease, and the treatment approach for some patients may be determined by the underlying genetic makeup of his or her tumor.
“By working with my doctor and asking questions, we were able to create a treatment plan that corresponded to my needs as an individual patient, not as a disease,” says Jill Feldman, a 43-year-old lung cancer patient. Feldman is involved with Lung Cancer Profiles (www.lungcancerprofiles.com), a national campaign developed by six lung cancer advocacy groups and Pfizer Oncology, which aims to reduce the stigma attached to lung cancer and raise awareness of molecular testing.
Dr. Shane Dormady, Valley Medical Oncology Consultants, is a leading expert in the field and has been working with lung cancer patients for more than 10 years. He has witnessed how stressful it can be for patients when they are diagnosed with lung cancer, and he understands the multitude of questions that might be running through their minds at that time.
“It’s important to research your options and get answers to three important questions early on in your lung cancer diagnosis,” says Dr. Dormady. “Patients should first ask their doctor what type of lung cancer they have and then second ask whether a molecular test can help determine the genetic makeup of their tumor.”Dr. Dormady lastly goes on to emphasize patients should find out if there are treatments available to them based on the genetic makeup of their tumor. The treatment landscape is constantly evolving, and it’s crucial to get the answers to these questions to determine the best path forward in your cancer care. There are a variety of options available, including chemotherapy, radiation, biomarker driven therapy and enrollment in a clinical trial.
Consult with your doctor to find out if testing is right for you.