Findings from German researchers provide support for the broad implementation of genome-based diagnosis of lung cancer, according to research published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“Gene classification and diagnosis has a profound impact on patients’ survival,” said study co-author Reinhard Büttner, MD, a professor of pathology at University Hospital Cologne, who noted that while some lung cancer cells look the same under the microscope, they may actually be quite different genetically.

“Systematic profiling of gene mutations in lung cancer allows precise classification and diagnostics and predicts the efficacy of targeted and personalized therapies. Every lung cancer should be analyzed for mutations to find the best therapy.”

Investigators collected data from more than 5,000 lung cancer patients, and discovered that genotyping the disease doubles overall survival in patients with two specific mutations: EGFR-mutated and ALK-translocated. Patients with those mutations who received personalized therapies showed survival advantages ranging somewhere between 12 months and 21 months.

“This analysis of tumors in lung cancer, at the end of the day, leads to a better prognosis … because a patient can get a personalized treatment,” said study co-author Thomas Zander, MD, a research fellow in the lung cancer group at University Hospital Cologne. “I am convinced that this will be the future of cancer treatment, not only for lung cancer, but for nearly every type of cancer.”