5 Things to Know about Lung Cancer Treatment
September 26, 2019
Cancer is a complex disease that can be difficult treat. Lung cancer specifically is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, causing more deaths than breast, colon, kidney, liver or prostate cancers.
With more than 2 million new lung cancer cases and 1.7 million deaths from lung cancer each year worldwide, Genprex is working to develop its initial drug candidate, Oncoprex™ immunogene therapy, to offer a new treatment option for non-small cell lung cancer patients.
Getting a lung cancer diagnosis can be a paralyzing moment. Here, Genprex outlines five things you should know about lung cancer treatment.
5. People living with lung cancer now have newer, more personalized treatment options.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy still remain the standard practice for the treatment of cancer. While chemotherapy and radiation can help prevent cancer from spreading, these treatments can have debilitating side effects and they are not personalized to the patient’s unique cancer diagnosis.
With a lung cancer diagnosis, there are now many new, personalized treatment options for patients. Today patients can receive more personalized treatments that are unique to their cancer and the characteristics of their cancer, offering the patient with a better treatment plan with a higher probability for response to certain medicines.
4. Knowing the subtype of your cancer will guide treatment options.
With a lung cancer diagnosis, the next step in your treatment plan should be to determine which subset of lung cancer you have. Do you have small cell lung cancer or non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)?
Small cell lung cancer can spread rapidly to other organs and microscopically has much smaller cells than NSCLC. Small cell lung cancer accounts for about 15-20 percent of lung cancers.
NSCLC accounts for about 80-85 percent of lung cancers, and the two most common subtypes of NSCLC include Adenocarcinoma or Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Based on your cancer subtype, different treatment options are available. Talk with your doctor to find out how you can be tested to determine your cancer subtype.
3. Biomarker testing can tell you what available treatments could benefit you most.
Once you have determined your lung cancer subtype, consider doing molecular or biomarker testing.
In cancer, normal cells mutate and change over time which leads to the building of cancerous cells that multiply and replicate. Biomarker testing can determine which specific gene has been altered or mutated that is causing the cancer. By understanding which gene has been changed, you can determine if you are a candidate for targeted therapies or immunotherapies, which are treatments that target specific genes or cell proteins.
Targeted therapies are aimed at “targeting” certain genes, and immunotherapies aim to treat certain genes or proteins present in cancer patients by helping the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. These treatment options are personalized specifically to the patient based on the results on biomarker tests.
There are a number of approved drugs available that target specific genetic mutations and proteins, making these treatments highly specialized based on the patient’s unique genetic makeup.
2. Targeted therapies do have some limitations.
While targeted therapies can be very beneficial for some lung cancer patients, most lung cancer patients are not eligible to receive targeted therapies because they do not have the right molecular profile, or genetic mutation, to benefit from today’s available drugs.
In fact, only 10 percent of patients have an activating EGFR mutation1, a genetic mutation found to be specific to lung cancer. Therefore, only this small percentage of patients can benefit from approved targeted therapies targeting the EGFR gene.
Secondly, patients that do initially qualify and respond to targeted therapies usually end up becoming resistant to them. As cancer changes and continues to mutate, it can make drugs that once worked for the patient become less beneficial or stop working after some time. Researchers at the Taussig Cancer Institute at Cleveland Clinic found that “drug resistance becomes inevitable over time.”1
1. Immunotherapy benefits some, but not all, lung cancer patients.
To be able to benefit from immunotherapies, lung cancer patients need to have higher levels of the PD-L1 protein. Biomarker testing can determine the patient’s levels of this protein. Unfortunately, researchers from the Knight Cancer Institute at the Oregon Health & Science University have found that only 12 percent of patients are eligible for and benefit from immunotherapies.2 Most patients do not have high enough levels of the PD-L1 protein to be able to benefit from the approved immunotherapy drugs available.
Could Immunogene Therapy be the Answer?
Genprex is developing targeted immunogene therapies to offer new options for cancer patientsand expand their access to both targeted and immunotherapies. Genprex is bridging a critical gap in cancer treatment by combining its immunogene therapies with targeted and immunotherapies to provide treatments to large patient populations who would otherwise not be candidates for those drugs or who cannot currently benefit from the available approved drugs alone.
Today’s modern medicine has come a long way in treating cancer. Talk with your doctor about finding the right treatment option that is best suited for you and your specific needs.
- El-Telbany A, Ma PC. Cancer genes in lung cancer: racial disparities: are there any?. Genes Cancer. 2012;3(7-8):467–480. doi:10.1177/1947601912465177
- Haslam A, Prasad V. Estimation of the Percentage of US Patients With Cancer Who Are Eligible for and Respond to Checkpoint Inhibitor Immunotherapy Drugs. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(5):e192535. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.2535
- Meyers DE, Bryan PM, Banerji S, Morris DG. Targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 axis for the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer. Curr Oncol. 2018;25(4):e324–e334. doi:10.3747/co.25.3976