The experts explained that lung cancer is usually diagnosed when it is already advanced, making it more difficult to treat. Many patients are given a combination of treatments, including surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
“In the past, we would give the same treatments to patients with tumors that had a similar appearance under the microscope,” says medical oncologist Mark Kris. “But quite often, those patients would have very different responses to treatment. Now, because of our ability to perform sophisticated genetic testing of each tumor, we can find specific changes within tumor cells that will help us select the most-effective treatment for each patient.”
The experts described other advances in lung cancer treatment, including high-dose radiation therapy and minimally invasive surgery. Surgeons at Memorial Sloan Kettering perform more than 600 lung procedures each year, working closely with a multidisciplinary team of lung cancer specialists. In addition, Memorial Sloan Kettering recently launched a lung cancer screening program to find early-stage tumors in current or former heavy smokers.