10 Things Doctors Want You to Know About Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is expected to kill 158,000 people in 2016, making it the top cause of cancer death. Only about 18% of people who get lung cancer survive five years after diagnosis. But lung cancer doctors say there are many promising new therapies today that are revolutionizing how they attack lung cancer and help save lives. Here's what they want you to know, whether you’re living with lung cancer yourself or have a loved one with the disease.
New Promise in the Lung Cancer Fight https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/crop/1494x999%2B0%2B0/resize/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2F8d%2F48%2F606caa1548eabeca41d615054b40%2Fresizes%2F1500%2Fimage-gettyimages-147349879.jpg
David Carbone, MD, says lung cancer today is "not your father's lung cancer," that treatment today is different from what it was even 10 years ago. "There are dozens of new therapies," Carbone says. Among them: targeted medications that identify and attack tumors based on their genetic make-up; immunotherapy to help your body fight off cancer; and improved chemotherapy, radiation and surgery techniques.
"New treatments are bringing new hope." https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/thumbnail/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2F1c%2Fee%2F7b50ef4c49d58f0eb78e155dffd7%2Fresizes%2F1500%2Fimage-getty-497325439.jpg
Because the field is changing so fast, it's important to get a second opinion at a major medical center or a university hospital. Your community physician "can be excellent but may not know about the latest approved drugs because they are so new," says Dr. Carbone. Also, he says, get your second opinion before you start treatment. Otherwise, it may be too late to go back and try another, more optimal approach.
"Get a second opinion." https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/thumbnail/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2F52%2Ffa%2Fa67f73504a54bc36c3d5514e0831%2Fresizes%2F1500%2Fimage-getty-486169457.jpg
Antoinette Wozniak, MD, says often patients want to hurry up and fight their lung cancer as soon as it's diagnosed. But, she says, "the most important thing is that the cancer be staged properly" to see if and how much it has spread, so doctors can figure out the most effective treatment plan. Also, doctors may need to analyze a tumor's genetic make-up to figure out the best targeted therapy, which can take about two weeks, she says.
"Be patient. The right diagnosis can take time." https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/thumbnail/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2Fe1%2F92%2F4e5a1e1e495ea4ba7a17f32f3b45%2Fimage-getty-174918392.jpg
"I try to discourage patients taking handfuls of pills from various nutraceutical kinds of vendors," says Dr. Carbone. Supplements can interfere with medications he prescribes, especially targeted therapies, and can have a higher chance of hurting your healing than helping. He advises consulting with your medical oncologist before taking supplements.
"Be wary of supplements." https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/thumbnail/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2Fb0%2Fa4%2F244a505a4d7e8f2205a14939835a%2Fimage-getty-480082351.jpg
Pierre Massion, MD, finds great hope in the personalized medications that are geared toward fighting your specific tumor. But, he cautions, lung cancer tumors can mutate and become resistant to your treatment. It's not uncommon for a targeted therapy to s