Genetic testing vital for lung cancer

Genetic testing vital for lung cancer

Genetic testing has changed the landscape of lung cancer and every patient needs to undergo testing, says a specialist.

Testing allows for the determination of actionable genetic alterations in lung cancer and is vital as it allows better treatment, said clinical oncologist Dr Tho Lye Mun. Research has found that patients with an oncogenic driver mutation who were given targeted therapy had better survival rate than those who did not receive targeted therapy and patients without an oncogenic driver. [JAMA 2014;311(19):1998–2006]

With the advancement in genetic testing, diagnosing lung cancer now involves an additional step. Besides conventional diagnosis using morphological or basic immunohistochemical features, for example to differentiate small cell lung cancer versus non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), identifying actionable genetic alterations such as EGFR, ALK , ROS-1 and PDL-1 should also be part of routine lung cancer diagnosis, said Tho.

The ability to classify patients in a more precise manner allows for more appropriate therapeutic strategy and for patients to receive the maximum effect of molecularly targeted drugs or immunotherapy.