Dr. Joshua Campbell has been immersed in the field of lung cancer for several years and wanted to find a better way to diagnose squamous cell lung cancer patients, a subtype of non-small cell lung cancer, while the cancer is in early stages. “There is a huge need for research in this area,” he notes. “Improving early detection techniques will be key to improving survival rates for patients with squamous cell lung cancer.”
Many people with family histories of cancer are getting tested to identify their cancer risk and take action before it starts. For example, the actress Angelina Jolie, who inherited the BRCA1 gene and whose mother died of ovarian cancer, underwent two preventive surgeries to reduce her risk of breast and ovarian cancer, while patients with an increased risk of colon cancer often take a daily dose of aspirin to reduce their risk.
I am sure all of you have heard the phrase “A picture’s worth a thousand words!” I first heard it from my undergraduate biology professor, who always reminded us that each time we looked at an anatomy image in Grey’s Anatomy, we would learn something new. Well, little did I know that I would be using the same phrase in the context of lung cancer screening and computed tomography (CT) screening.
As a pathologist specializing in lung disease at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Lida Hariri’s job is to analyze lung biopsy samples and diagnose patients. After years of doing this work, she started to notice a pattern. When lung CT scans showed lesions that were difficult to access or too small to biopsy well, many doctors tended to wait and see whether the lesion grew before doing the biopsy.
Each year Viswam Nair, MD, manages treatment plans for hundreds of patients at Stanford University. A pulmonologist with formal training in epidemiology, Dr. Nair stays current on the latest scientific breakthroughs to offer his patients the best possible outcomes.
At Breathe Deep events around the country, participants share a deep resolve to keep working toward a future where no one dies of lung cancer. As I interviewed LUNGevity awardee Dr. Kimberly Rieger-Christ, Director of Cancer Research at the Lahey Hospital & Medical Center (Lahey) in Burlington, MA, I was happy to discover that shared resolve does not end with event participants; scientists work together across institutions toward that future as well.
This year’s American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual meeting in Chicago included 115 science sessions and 138 education sessions spread over four days. Doctors and scientists from all over the world presented the latest research and advances in early detection, treatment regimens, survivorship, and palliative care. The two stars of the show were lung cancer and immunotherapy, and sometimes they even appeared together!
Progress in lung cancer is on a continuous roll, and this year’s annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research testifies to the hard work of researchers and doctors from all over the world. They have one mission in mind: to bring the best care to the cancer patient! At the meeting, we learned about the latest research in lung cancer and how this is guiding treatment decisions.
LUNGevity was proud to have 48 of our awardees and eight members of the LUNGevity Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) present their work at the conference.
“The LUNGevity award provided me the resources to study premalignant lung cells—a stage in which normal lung cells have changed, but not yet completely into cancer cells. This is an extremely important area of cancer research for lung cancer as well as for other types of cancers. Studying premalignant cells provides us a unique window to understand the early stages of lung cancer—before the lung cells acquire the mutations in DNA that allow them to become cancer cells.
“Our ultimate goal is to develop tests that catch the cancer in low-risk patients who do not undergo CT screening (such as never-smokers), as well as help doctors make decisions regarding treatment of lung nodules. The tests should also tell us about the histology of the lung cancer.” —York Miller, MD