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Genetic Testing for Lung Cancer

An Overview of Lung Cancer


One of the deadliest forms of cancer, with its causes generally being smoking and/or being exposed to air pollution. However, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), genetics may also be a factor.


The role of genetics and family history in the development of lung cancer is not well understood, according to Dr. Megan Baumgart, assistant professor of medicine, hematology/oncology at the Wilmot Cancer Institute in Rochester, but the risk appears to be highest for those with relatives diagnosed at a young age and those with multiple family members diagnosed with lung cancer.


Lung cancer can also be classified into three categories, Small cell lung cancer (SCLC), Non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and mixed small/large cell lung cancer, a combination of both.

Image is courtesy of WebMD


Small Cell Lung Cancer vs. Non Small Cell Lung Cancer


The primary difference between the two is that NSCLC is more common, making up about 85 percent of lung cancers according to the American Cancer Society. Despite the fact that NSCLC advances more slowly than SCLC, 40% of NSCLCs have migrated beyond the lungs by the time it is detected.


Since they are both lung cancers, they have similar risk factors smoking being the primary cause, and both use similar methods of detection such as X-rays, CT-scans and MRIs. Because so many cases of NSCLC are not diagnosed until they have spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body, early identification offers the best prognosis for this kind of lung cancer. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and targeted therapy are all options for treating NSCLC.


Genetic Testing Assisting Treatment


As NSCLCs can be further divided into three sub categories: Squamous cell carcinomas begin in the main airways in the middle of the lungs, while Large cell carcinomas begin anywhere in the lung and can be highly aggressive. Adenocarcinoma begins in immature cells that release mucus and is located in the outer sections of the lung.


Many NSCLC-related mutations have already been discovered. This has aided researchers in the development of drugs that specifically target some of those mutations. Knowing which mutations are responsible for your cancer's development can help your doctor predict how the disease will progress. This can aid in determining which drugs are the most likely to work, personalizing treatment.


Pathologists look for cancer during the initial biopsy. In most cases, the same biopsy tissue sample can be utilised for genetic testing. Hundreds of mutations can be screened using genetic assays.


NSCLC is treated in a variety of ways. Because no two cases of NSCLC are same, treatment options must be carefully studied. In-depth molecular testing can reveal whether your tumour contains certain genetic abnormalities or proteins. Targeted medicines are intended to treat the tumor's unique characteristics.


Article Author: Idil Gure

Article Editors; Stephanie Sahadeo, Sherilyn Wen