Because there are different types of lung cancer, it is important to make sure the full diagnosis includes testing for specific biomarkers or mutations, that determine the exact type. Another aspect of lung cancer diagnosis is determining if and where the cancer has spread. Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer to spread to the brain. As a result, treatment paths can vary significantly from person to person depending on these characteristics of their disease, which can be determined by diagnostic tests.
Today there are personalized treatment options. Mutation tests are critical in finding which options will be best for each type of lung cancer. It’s important to know your full diagnosis to know what treatment classes work best for your type of disease.
Lung cancer treatment is a big decision, and patients deserve the best treatments for them from the get-go. There is no type of cancer where you shouldn’t use your best treatment options first for your specific type of disease. In order to identify the best options first, you have to test first.
For patients with Stage IV (metastatic) non-small cell lung cancer who test positive for the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation, the current standard of care is to start patients on an EGFR-TKI, a targeted therapy, which is not chemotherapy or immunotherapy.
When one test has the potential to help patients choose the best treatment options, waiting for those test results is especially critical to choosing the best type of treatment first.
The choices for the first treatment for Stage IV EGFR mutation-positive NSCLC come down to more than just the effectiveness of a medicine – it can also depend on where the cancer has spread, and the safety, tolerability and convenience of a given therapy. All these factors can help dictate what the best type of treatment may be, with the goal of living significantly longer without tumors spreading, while being able to truly live life with lung cancer.
Newly diagnosed patients need to advocate for themselves by asking their doctors about mutation testing. Because if you know your mutation status, your treatment options might be different and you can start on the best type of treatment first. For people who are recently diagnosed with lung cancer, processing the emotions of the diagnosis can be especially difficult, and rightly so. In managing any disease, one way to self-advocate from the very beginning is to be in close contact with your medical team and ask questions.
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