Study Finds New Possibilities for Lung Cancer Treatment in ‘Never Smokers’

Non-Smoker's Lung CancerSmoking is the well-known reason for causing lung cancer among a significant amount of people. But, there are also those lung cancer patients who have never smoked in their life but still get entangled in this deadly disease. A new study led by team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis works on understanding why cancer occurs in those who have never smoked and demonstrates new possibilities for treatment of lung cancer. The study appeared in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. In US, about 10% to 15% of lung cancers are diagnosed in non-smokers and this proportion can go up to 40% in parts of Asia.

In this study, they suggest that 78% to 92% of patients who have never smoked can be treated with precision drugs approved by Food and Drug Administration with the purpose of targeting specific mutations in the lung tumor. They have found that those lung tumors had driver mutations that led to its growth and this can be blocked with the help of drugs.  The FDA approved drugs may be effective in about 80% of lung tumors which are never smokers.

Ramaswamy Govindan, MD, a professor of medicine said, “Most genomic studies of lung cancer have focused on patients with a history of tobacco smoking.” “And even studies investigating the disease in patients who have never smoked have not looked for specific, actionable mutations in these tumors in a systematic way. We found that the vast majority of these patients have genetic alterations that physicians can treat today with drugs already approved for use,” he added. The data was analyzed from 160 patients having no history of tobacco smoking.

This study also focuses on the immune profile of lung tumors which could help in explaining why most of patients do not respond well to a type of immunotherapy. The researchers were able to identify actionable mutations in vast majority of patients. They highlighted the need for high-quality tumor biopsies for clinical genomic testing in the patients so that the best targeted therapies can be identified.

The information shared in this blog is for educational purposes only.

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