Researchers at UC Davis have determined that surgical biopsies can be safely performed on select patients with late-stage non-small cell lung cancer, which should enhance their access to drugs that target specific genetic mutations such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).
The findings, to be published in the July issue of The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, address a common problem in treatment for advanced lung cancer: insufficient tumor tissue available for molecular analysis, which is required before prescribing targeted therapy.
“We will be allowing more people to be eligible for clinical trials, and ultimately that will provide value to the patient and access to treatments they may not have had otherwise,” said study lead author David T. Cooke, assistant professor and head of general thoracic surgery at the UC Davis Medical Center.
In many cases of late-stage lung cancer, surgical biopsy is deemed too dangerous, so less invasive approaches are used, including fine needle aspiration and core needle biopsies.
“With clinical trials of new targeted therapies, an exhausting level of testing is performed,” Cooke said. “With less invasive biopsies, sometimes the volume of cells collected is insufficient to do the molecular testing.”
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