The recent passing away of Joe Paterno, the Penn State football coach, revived media interest towards lung cancer. MedPageToday.com writes that a team of scientists might have discovered a gene test that will be able to ascertain lung cancer survival rate and find the disease earlier. This is the sort of discovery that will definitely improve the survival odds for cancer patients.
On Thursday, the medical journal The Lancet published study results coming from the two largest clinical studies ever conducted on the molecular genetics of lung cancer by an international team led by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco. The findings are so impressive that they will boost survival rates among numerous lung cancer patients.
The two studies were conducted to demonstrate how the gene test improves the accuracy of prognosis. Basically, the gene test works by measuring the activity of fourteen genes in cancerous tissue. Both studies showed that the gene test is able to accurately predict whether the odds of passing away within five years of surgery to remove a lung cancer were low, intermediate or high.
This bit of information will make doctors’ diagnosis much more correct, since at the moment physicians ascertain early lung cancer by looking at size, location and how it looks under the microscope. More exact information will result in more effective and precise treatments.
Dr. David Jablons, chief for the thoracic oncology program at the University of California and author of the study, believes that the findings “can help enhance the chance of curing more patients, and this is not an insignificant problem. This is 50,000 patients in the U.S. alone or more a year and hundreds of thousands of patients a year worldwide”.
Michael J. Mann, a thoracic surgeon and associate professor of surgery at the University of California, told WebMD, that “just matching the patients to an effective therapy in a slightly more efficient manner would actually improve the survival rate for lung cancer” and called it “an accomplishment that has eluded medical scientists for three decades”.
The study is a breakthrough in the lung cancer treatment and will certainly mean a big improvement in how doctors deal with it from now on. At the moment, lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death worldwide, with 160,000 people dying each year from it in U.S. alone.