FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM NOVEMBER 5, 2020 • HEALTH • THE QUEENS COURIER 27
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 be wrong.
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 nonsmoker
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 cancer.
“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 individual person.
Know Your Treatment Options.
Twenty-fi 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
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/lungcancer.
Courtesy of BPT