Program Offers Personalized Cancer Treatment for Lung Cancer Patients

For patients with advanced lung cancer, chemotherapy is generally the standard first-line treatment. However, all lung cancers are not identical. The Winship Cancer Institute lung cancer program in Georgia aims to address this issue by offering more personalized treatment. The institute has between 20 and 30 ongoing lung cancer clinical trials to test the effectiveness of immunotherapy drugs. The drugs are designed to provoke the immune system to target cancerous cells and leave the healthy ones alone.

The program staff has found that patients have been able to successfully tolerate the immunotherapy treatments. One of their patients with advanced lung cancer had previously received chemotherapy, which caused chronic diarrhea. After receiving the new treatment at Winship, he only experienced mild gastrointestinal discomfort, and his tumors shrank significantly over the course of nearly a year.

Winship scientists and clinicians are working to create and test personalized treatment regimens for each patient. For instance, they may need to boost immune response for one patient. For another, they may need to focus on response to treatment or the genes associated with a particular type of cancer.

When a patient comes to Winship, the staff takes a tissue sample of the tumor. Then they examine it in a genomic screening process to identify the exact gene that has gone astray and led to the person’s cancer. By finding the specific gene that has gone rogue, doctors and clinicians can provide more personalized and targeted therapies.

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