By Lynne Eldridge MD, About.com Guide
A diagnosis of cancer is like being immersed in a foreign language camp you don’t remember enrolling in. And that was in the past. As advances are made in lung cancer treatment, a whole new array of concepts and terms comes to light. You may have heard of terms such as EGFR and ALK, perhaps even KRAS…
Thankfully this “new” language is worth learning about, and we’re fortunate to have people like Bonnie Addario who have set out to make the education process easier. The most significant advances in lung cancer treatment – treatments that have actually budged the survival rate for some people in the last decade – have a lot to do with targeting genetic mutations in cancer cells. What’s really exciting is that not only have these treatments improved survival for some people, but they’re designed specifically for your type of tumor. It’s interesting that cold hard science is reminding us of what we often forget in medicine – that everyone is unique and special.
On Tuesday, May 21, 2013 you are invited to join the Lung Cancer Living Room to learn more. Sponsored by the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, the Living Room is a monthly support group (meeting on the 3rd Tuesday of the month) that covers topics that people with lung cancer are interested in learning about – in addition to being a place where you are not alone as you live with lung cancer. You can take part from your own living room on your laptop, or attend the group in person at the headquarters in San Carlos, California.
The date: Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The time: 5:30 PM Pacific Standard Time
Guest speaker: Paul Billings, MD, PhD. Dr. Billings is a physician, lecturer, professor, and consultant on genetic information. He will be discussing the road map towards precision medicine, and the role of Next Generation Sequencing and what it means to someone diagnosed with lung cancer.
How to join the conversation: Click on Lung Cancer Living Room Live Streaming and follow the prompts.
A concept that might be helpful to understand before tuning in is that there are many types of lung cancer. If I were to talk with 70 people with lung cancer, they would have 70 different types of lung cancer. Everyone has different mutations present in their cancer cells. And targeting these abnormalities not only hits the mark better, but does so without many of the dreaded side effects of chemotherapy.
It can also help a little to understand exactly what a cancer cell is – and why they are so hard to get rid of. A difficult-to-understand concept is that cancer is caused by not just one mutation, but a series of mutations. There are often mutations that result in cells continuing to grow and divide when they shouldn’t. There are often mutations in proteins that tell cells to stop growing. There are also often mutations in genes that code for proteins that tell cells to die (a process called apoptosis.) At the risk of being overly simplistic, the excitement over genetic sequencing is that these mutations can be discovered and overcome with new therapies. Example of medications that work in this way include Tarceva (erlotinib) and Xalkori (crizitonib.)
If you’re interested in learning more about the mutations and abnormalities in cancer cells – and hence, the approach that new medications are taking to treat it, check out:
Cancer Cells vs Normal Cells
I hope you’ll get the chance to take part in this wonderful opportunity. I’m very excited myself to hear the latest in treatments that can be tailored for those I care so deeply for with lung cancer.
To join and “like” the Living Room community on facebook, go to the Lung Cancer Living Room Facebook Page