A One Lung Reflection on 2016.

While most of the millennial generation is ready to watch 2016 die tomorrow. It wasn’t all bad for Lung Cancer. Here are some highlights from the last year.

First lets talk about early detection. There is a VERY cool new method being studied called a “Liquid Biopsy.” Doctors and researchers are taking sputum, blood, urine, or stool samples to see if we can spot DNA changes that would indicate Lung Cancer Cells. This would mean finding Caner at an earlier stage with a completely non intrusive method. Can you say LIFE changing?

The Government and more specifically Congress made a great stride this year in recognizing the vital importance of federal research. They increased funding in fiscal year 2016 for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Now lets discuss some super cool drugs got approved this year.  Tecentriq (atezolizumab) from Genentech was approved by the FDA. This drug is for the treatment of urothelial carcinoma and metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. It was approved May 2016. Nivolumab (Opdivo) from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) from Merck have also been approved by the FDA for treatment in advanced NSCLC (Non Small Cell Lung Cancer). These drugs are all very interesting. Cancer cells have a very sneaky way of avoiding your bodies natural response to an invader. They often have a  protein called PD-L1 on their surface, which is almost like a Harry Potter invisibility cloak or a polly juice potion. Therefore the immune doesn’t see the Cancer, and doesn’t fight it off. These drugs help block this PD-L1 protein making the tumor visible so the immune system can do it’s job and fight the Cancer. These are called Immunotherapy treatments. In general these drugs are used after other methods of treatment have been tried.

The early detection, funding, and new drugs are helping extend lives. Now lets keep up the momentum and make 2017 even more exciting.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

 

 

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