For a long time, the molecular biomarkers EGFR/ALK have been used to test for lung cancer, one of the most common diseases diagnosed globally. Thanks to advancements and early identification, lung cancer treatment is evolving.
Advances in radiation therapy, surgery, and novel medications that target particular characteristics of cancer and boost the immune system’s ability to combat it are all available. Here are some of the effective developments that have been made in the domain of lung cancer therapeutics.
Thoracic Surgery with Video Assistance (VATS)
Physicians can use this procedure to treat certain tiny lung cancers. Your surgeon makes small incisions to remove portions of your lung. As a result, the process hurts less. It can also expedite your recuperation.
A more recent method of performing VATS is called “robotic-assisted surgery.” Within the operating theater, your surgeon uses robotic arms to move long surgical instruments while seated at a control panel.
Also referred to as immunotherapy, this can improve the ability of the immune system to identify and eliminate cancer cells. There are several varieties available:
- Checkpoint inhibitors: One of the immune system’s functions is to prevent the body’s normal cells from being attacked. It accomplishes this by using molecules known as “checkpoints,” which must be activated or deactivated to start an immune response. Cancer cells can occasionally use these checkpoints to evade the immune system.
However, four medications—pembrolizumab (Keytruda), atezolizumab (Tecentriq), durvalumab (Imfinzi), and nivolumab (Opdivo)—target these checkpoints and essentially remove the brakes from your immune system, allowing it to launch a more effective attack.
- Monoclonal antibodies: Produced in a laboratory, these molecules are directed toward particular indicators, known as antigens, present in malignancies. Ramucirumab (Cyramza) and bevacizumab (Avastin) are two examples of medications used to treat lung cancer.
- Picture-Guided Radiation Treatment
A physician more accurately thanks to machines can administer radiation therapy with integrated imaging scanners. Before administering radiation, they can take images of the lungs and make necessary adjustments to their aim. One can target the tumor with it. It might also result in fewer adverse consequences.
- CT Scan at Low Dose
The fact that lung cancer typically doesn’t show signs until the disease is advanced is one of the factors that makes it deadly. The low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan is a tool that medical professionals can use to screen for lung cancer in patients at high risk.
It takes roughly fifteen minutes and exposes individuals to the same radiation as a mammography. According to research, patients who received LDCT had a 20% lower chance of passing away from the condition than those who underwent chest X-rays. It is advised that individuals between 50 and 80 who have smoked for 20 pack years and are still smokers or have quit within the last 15 years take the test.
Researchers have discovered that tailored treatments such as EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) blockers may benefit individuals with particular genetic combinations. A signal that instructs cells to proliferate is blocked by afatinib (Gilotrif), erlotinib (Tarceva), amivantamab-vmiw (Rybrevant), necitumumab (Portrazza), gefitinib (Iressa), and osimertinib (Tagrisso).
Certain tumors with alterations in the ALK gene have been found to respond well to treatment with the medications certinib (Zykadia), crizotinib (Xalkori), brigatinib (Alunbrig), and alectinib (Alecensa). Some of these medications can also treat tumors with a ROS1 gene mutation. Both trametinib (Mekinist) and dabrafenib (Tafinlar) target specific proteins found in malignancies when the BRAF gene has been altered. Tumors with any KRAS mutation are the target of sotorasib (Lumakras).
Over the past 20 years, there has been a significant evolution in lung cancer treatment due to an improved understanding of the underlying genetics. The best example of this is in metastatic lung cancer, where tailored therapy has successfully addressed several genetic abnormalities. In this field, more work must be done to get quicker and more efficient results.