Lung Cancer Advances In Early Detection
The early detection of lung cancer provides the best chance of cure and prolonged survival. After decades in which lung cancer had a typically grim prognosis, advances in recent years are enabling patients to survive and live longer with lung cancer.
Among the tests currently being studied to increase the chances of diagnosing early lung cancer are nasal epithelial brushings. This is where a small brush is used to collect cells from your nose. These cells are part of the respiratory tract where lung cancer occurs and can be examined for abnormalities associated with lung cancer. Although in the early stages of testing, this technology could potentially identify patients with lung cancer before symptoms develop, a huge breakthrough in early detection.
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Lung Cancer Advances in Liquid Biopsy
One of the newest breakthroughs is called liquid biopsy. Lung cancer cells and cancer-related molecules are actually shed into the bloodstream. By taking a blood sample the doctors can look for these cancer cells and molecules.
Previously, to determine the type of lung cancer someone has, we could only go into the lung and take a tissue sample. Now, in some cases, a drop of blood can be collected and analyzed to see if one or more mutations is detected that are responsible for lung cancer. Some of these mutations can be targeted with therapies specifically designed for that specific mutation.
Lung Cancer Advances In Immunotherapy
In patients who present with advanced lung cancers, immunotherapies are now available that can result in long term, lasting responses. These immunotherapies are being used alone and in conjunction with chemotherapies to prolong life.
Biomarker testing is used to identify the unique composition of each tumor. Immunotherapy works by stimulating the native immune system to recognize cancer cells as foreign and killing them. Cancer cells have ways to fool the immune system into thinking that cancer cells are normal cells. Immunotherapies help the immune system identify cancer cells as foreign, so it can then destroy the cancer cells.
Lung Cancer Advances In Targeted Therapy
Researchers have learned that no two tumors are alike, similar to how each snowflake is unique. Some patients have specific tumors that we can now target with specific drugs. Used in lung cancers caused by specific gene mutations, these drugs are called targeted therapies.
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Lung Cancer Advances and CBD use
CBD or Cannabidiol is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis flower. CBD does not give users a “high” like marijuana does. Some cancer patients use CBD oil to treat symptoms of cancer or side effects of cancer treatments, like nausea after chemotherapy or radiation.
Currently, there are no scientific, peer-reviewed studies showing that CBD has a beneficial effect on the cancer itself. Additionally, there are no scientific, peer-reviewed studies of how CBD might interact with powerful targeted therapies.
Also, the beneficial use of the drug marijuana for cancer patients has no scientific, peer-reviewed studies. Marijuana smoke contains many of the same dangerous toxins found in cigarette smoke, a known risk for lung cancer.
Inform your doctor regarding the use of CBDs, marijuana, or any other alternative treatment in conjunction with regular lung cancer treatment. This is vital information so they are aware of any contraindications or side effects.
Bottom line: there are no studies showing that marijuana and/or CBD use are beneficial treatments for cancer, and their use could possibly be harmful.
Meet our presenters
Dr. Denise Aberle is on the LCFA Scientific Advisory Board. She served as the national Principal Investigator of the American College of Radiology Imaging Network component of the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST). The NLST trial compares the benefit of low dose CT scans versus chest radiography for lung cancer screening.
An attorney and lung cancer survivor, David Sturges became a fervent patient advocate after he saw the glaring discrepancy in funding for lung cancer research as compared to other cancers. That need for research funding led David to help found LCFA and to continue to speak out about the huge public health impact of lung cancer and the great need to increase research funding.