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Have You Had Genetic Testing for Your Lung Cancer?


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If you've been diagnosed with lung adenocarcinoma, or another form of non-small cell lung cancer, your doctor may have recommended genetic testing. But from people I've spoken with lately, this is very confusing.

(First of all, if you have non-small cell lung cancer and your doctor hasn't ordered testing, talk to her. There is now a general consensus that everyone with advanced or metastatic lung adenocarcinoma have genetic testing (biomarker testing) of their tumor. Yet a recent study found that only 60% of oncologists are following these guidelines.)

The confusion comes from what many of us think about when we think of genetics and gene mutations - something is passed down through families. There are 2 basic types of mutations. The first is hereditary. This is the kind of mutation you inherit from your parents, and is the kind of mutation that is getting a lot of attention in regard to breast cancer. The second type of mutation is acquired. In the process of becoming cancerous, cancers develop many gene mutations, and in fact it is these mutations that cause the development and growth of cancers. These mutations are not present from birth and are not passed on to children.

The importance of testing for mutations is that treatments are now available - both approved drugs and those available in clinical trials. The approved targeted therapies include Tarceva (erlotinib) for people with EGFR mutations, and Xalkori (crizotinib) for people with ALK positive lung cancer.

Since this topic is so confusing, the article below takes you step by step in understanding why genetic testing may be important for those with lung cancer.



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