Know Your Lung Cancer: Accelerating Education and Access for Biomarker Testing


CURE will host a webinar, sponsored by Amgen, in which panelists from several cancer organizations will discuss ways to improve awareness around biomarker testing, improve coordination of care for patients with lung cancer and remove barriers to access to care.

Targeted therapies have changed the lung cancer treatment landscape in the last decade, with multiple drugs now approved or in clinical trials to treat those with genomic alterations like ALK, EGFR, ROS1, BRAF V600E, NRTK, MET, KRAS and RET alterations. However, educational gaps remain in helping patients to understand why biomarker testing is key for those with lung cancer.

Targeted therapies are a type of treatment that work by targeting specific parts of cancer cells that signal driver mutations in the cell to grow and divide uncontrollably. Each of these treatments shows promise for certain patients; however, they do not benefit all. This is why it is important for patients to ask for biomarker testing.

A biomarker is a molecule that can be measured in a patient’s tissue, blood or other bodily fluids. They are also referred to as molecular markers, genotypes or signature molecules.

Biomarker testing determines the presence of particular mutations or proteins in a patient’s tumor. If a patient’s comprehensive biomarker testing reveals their cancer is driven by a particular genomic alteration, it means they would be a good candidate for a targeted therapy that attacks that mutation or protein.

There are two types of biomarkers currently evaluated to optimize a patient’s treatment: driver mutations or immunotherapy biomarkers. Driver mutations are found within the cancer’s DNA and can be acquired (present only in a patient’s tumor, but not passed on to children) or inherited (present in all cells of the patient and is passed on to children). Immunotherapy biomarkers show the level of expression of a particular protein in a patient’s tumor, like PD-L1.

Biomarker testing should be done when a patient is diagnosed with lung cancer and/or if their disease recurs after treatment. Essentially, all patients who have received a lung cancer diagnosis should discuss biomarker testing with their health care team.

Although this is a critical first step to correctly treating a patient’s lung cancer, many do not receive biomarker testing at diagnosis. For example, A 2018 study of 1,009 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) found that biomarker testing for 45.6% of patients did not yield a driver mutation, highlighting that a significant portion of patients with advanced NSCLC continue to receive standard oncology care that is not biomarker-driven. In addition, a study conducted by LUNGevity found that low rates of biomarker testing is especially pronounced in underserved communities: Patients on Medicaid are 40% less likely to get tested than those with private health insurance; and Medicaid patients are 30% less likely than patients who are privately insured to receive targeted therapies following testing.

Therefore, to help address this gap in knowledge, CURE is hosting the Educated Patient Lung Cancer Webinar, titled “Know Your Lung Cancer: Accelerating Education and Access for Biomarker Testing,” sponsored by Amgen, on Thursday, February 18, 2021, from 12 pm EST to 1 pm EST.

The webinar will discuss challenges, opportunities and potential solutions in the areas of improving awareness of biomarker testing, improving coordination of care of biomarker testing for patients with lung cancer and removing barriers to access of biomarker testing. The multidisciplinary panel of experts will include LUNGEvity, the Cancer Support Community, American Cancer Society, Association of Molecular Pathology, Association of Community Cancer Centers and Amgen.

To register for the CURE Educated Patient Lung Cancer Webinar, visit CURE’s Educated Patient Webinars, or click here.

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Image of Dr. Minesh Mehta at ASCO 2024.