38 THE QUEENS COURIER • WELLNESS • MARСH 19, 2020 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Is everything you know about lung cancer wrong?
When you hear someone has lung cancer,
certain words may come to mind.
Smoker. Elderly. Hopeless. But in recent
years our scientifi c understanding of lung
cancer has changed. It isn’t just one disease
with one cause, or even one outcome.
Although lung cancer is one of the most
commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S.,
what you think you know about it may
Lori Morris learned this fi rst-hand,
when she was diagnosed at the age of 54.
Morris was originally diagnosed with
asthma aft er experiencing shortness of
breath on a hike. Her condition deteriorated,
but since she was an athletic
non-smoker with a history of good
health, lung cancer never crossed her
mind. It wasn’t until she ended up in an
emergency room four years later, unable
to breathe, that doctors discovered masses
in her lung that had spread to her
brain. Th e diagnosis was advanced lung
“Lung cancer wasn’t on anyone’s radar,”
said Morris. “I assumed there was only
one cause for lung cancer - smoking - and
only one kind of person who gets lung
cancer, and that wasn’t me.”
With the support of family and friends,
Morris found an oncologist who took a
personalized approach to her treatment.
Th e truth is, there are more types of lung
cancer than most people realize. Her doctor
told her how lung cancer can aff ect
anyone regardless of their age, ethnicity
and lifestyle, and that treatment is not
Lori had a type of lung cancer called
ALK-positive lung cancer, which typically
occurs in younger people who have never
smoked or smoked lightly. Empowered
by her genetic testing results, she had the
confi dence to make an informed decision
with her doctor about a treatment tailored
specifi cally for her type of lung cancer.
Today, Lori is doing well and looking
forward to training for her next major
hike in the near future.
If you or someone you love are one of
the estimated 230,000 Americans diagnosed
with lung cancer this year, here are
Know Your Type. Diff erent types of
lung cancer are identifi ed by where the
cancer cells originate, what they look like
and their genetics. Th e two main types
are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
and small cell lung cancer (SCLC).
NSCLC, which makes up the majority
of lung cancer cases, is further divided
into three main subtypes - adenocarcinoma,
squamous cell and large cell -
although some people with NSCLC have
a rarer or unspecifi ed subtype of the disease.
More than half of all lung cancers
have known genetic mutations, or biomarkers,
that may be causing the cancer
to grow. Examples of these mutations
include ALK, EGFR and ROS-1, which
can be identifi ed by asking a physician for
biomarker testing. Knowing the specifi c
type of lung cancer is important to determining
the right treatment for the each
Know Your Treatment Options. Twentyfi
ve years ago, lung cancer treatment was
limited to surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
But a better understanding
of the diff erent types of lung cancer has
led to more medicines that enable doctors
to personalize treatment based on
the individual characteristics of a tumor.
For example, if testing reveals that a person’s
tumor has a specifi c genetic mutation,
they may be eligible to receive a targeted
therapy for their specifi c type of
cancer. Cancer immunotherapy is another
recent advance in treatment that works
with the body’s own immune system to
fi ght against cancer, based on a specifi c
protein found in tumor cells.
Know You Are Not Alone. Even though
everyone’s lung cancer journey is unique,
support from others with the same type of
cancer can help patients and their families
navigate the challenges ahead. Advocacy
organizations like LUNGevity, Bonnie J.
Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and
the Lung Cancer Alliance can connect
people with lung cancer with other survivors
and provide additional resources for
loved ones as well. Th ere are even groups
for people with specifi c mutations, such
as the ROS1ders, EGFR Resisters and
ALK Positive. Support groups can also
help you overcome the burden of stigma
that can come with a lung cancer diagnosis.
In the past 25 years, survival rates
for advanced lung cancer have improved
from a few months to more than a year,
partly due to the new medicines that are
available. Because with the information
and support available today for people
with lung cancer, no one should have to
To learn more about diff erent types
of lung cancer, visit gene.com/topics/
Courtesy of BPT