Cancer treatment has come a long way. Today, there are more options – and more effective options – than ever before. RCCA oncologist Dr. Stephen G. Wallace, who practices at the Mount Holly location and is actively involved in cancer-therapy research, is excited to see firsthand how care is evolving, particularly for lung cancer, which has historically been one of the most aggressive types of cancer.
More Hope for Patients with Lung Cancer
Thanks to recent advancements, Dr. Wallace says, “I am seeing some patients with Stage IV lung cancer achieve full remission. This is occurring in only a minority of patients, but it would have been unimaginable 10 years ago. I am confident that not just in the next 10 years, but in the next five or three years, we are going to go even further, even faster.”
In the past, patients with lung cancer only had three treatment options: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Now, not only have those treatments improved, but immunotherapy treatments are also available, as well as late-stage clinical trials. With more options, doctors are able to offer more personalized care to every patient.
Treatment is Advancing at a Fast Pace
The majority of lung cancer deaths are attributed to a type known as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). But, says, Dr. Wallace, the outlook for NSCLC is improving, and immunotherapy is a major reason why. Immunotherapy is a form of treatment that strengthens the patient’s own immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells.
Genetic testing has also helped researchers learn more about lung cancer and how each case behaves. In turn, this allows them to develop targeted therapies aimed specifically at certain genetic mutations. Dr. Wallace explains, “At present, a minority of NSCLC patients have one of the genetic mutations for which we have developed a targeted therapy, but in those cases, the agents tend to be quite effective – and generally to have milder side effects than chemotherapy. As we identify more molecular ‘drivers’ of disease, we will be able to develop more of these targeted therapies.”
Looking to the Future
If Dr. Wallace’s prediction is correct, more and more cancer treatments, technology and software will become available in the coming years. As they do, RCCA will be among the first to offer them to patients. To learn more about recent advances in lung cancer treatment, contact an RCCA oncologist near you.