Jared Gordon thought he had a bad cold. But after he couldn’t kick the sickness for a month, he went to the doctor for tests, which revealed the true source of his prolonged illness: stage IV lung cancer.
The tumor had spread to the lining of his lungs and surrounding lymph nodes. The 51-year-old single father of three was told he had six months to live.
But Jared decided to get a second opinion at the OSUCCC – James, where the lung cancer team offers next-generation genomic sequencing of lung tumors. Funded in part by Pelotonia — an annual grassroots bicycle tour that raises millions of dollars for cancer research at Ohio State — next-generation genomic sequencing is now considered part of the standard of care for stage IV lung cancer patients.
This technology allows pathologists to analyze 50-plus genes in DNA extracted from a tumor biopsy for particular genetic mutations. Previous technology required pathologists to analyze one mutation per tissue sample. This second-generation genome sequencing assesses more than 2,500 mutations in a single reaction.
Jared’s testing revealed a specific genetic mutation that allowed his treatment team to prescribe a therapy targeted to his unique cancer. Instead of traditional IV chemotherapy, he receives an oral therapy that targets his tumor’s specific characteristics. He takes two pills per day, and his tumor has shrunk 60 percent since he began treatment.
Now he is enrolled in a clinical study of an investigational IV medication with the goal of enhancing his existing oral targeted therapy.
Jared’s story, like so many others’ stories, affirms that there is no routine cancer, so treatment cannot be “routine” either. Knowing which mutations are present in lung tumors can help oncologists tailor a patient’s treatment to the unique genetic features of his or her cancer cells. The knowledge can also help in the development of new drugs that target previously unrecognized gene mutations in lung tumors.