New Advances in Lung Cancer Research

Every day, experts at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) are making advances in cancer research and treatment.

These advances are especially important in cancers for which treatment is a challenge for oncologists, like lung cancer.

“Lung cancer is often diagnosed in a very late stage,” says David Carbone, MD, PhD, a medical oncologist at the OSUCCC – James and director of the Thoracic Oncology Center. “Most patients are diagnosed in stage four; that's what our computed tomography (CT) screening effort is designed to try to avoid. When you can detect lung cancer earlier, it's more surgically curable.”

The increasing acceptance of CT screening for early detection is not all that is benefiting lung cancer patients. Researchers have also discovered genes that predispose to lung cancer and have developed advanced radiation therapy techniques, minimally invasive surgical techniques and genetically targeted therapies for patients with advanced disease. Furthermore, the latest research-based immunotherapies in lung cancer are showing tremendous promise.

“It's very clear now that there's no such thing as routine lung cancer,” Carbone says. “Every lung cancer is different from every other lung cancer, and genomics is a way of dissecting the differences. If we can discover which genes drive the cancer, and if we can then target those genes, we can come up with highly effective treatments.”

The use of genomics to develop targeted therapies, combined with recent discoveries in lung cancer, is giving oncologists and their patients more hope.

“Twenty-five years ago, there was really very little hope with lung cancer. It was uniformly fatal, and there were very few effective treatments,” Carbone says. “And now there is at least a hope that, if we genetically type the cancer or study the body’s immune response to it, we can dramatically help these patients for long periods of time, which is very exciting.”