Over 3,000 British Columbians are diagnosed with lung cancer each year, commonly diagnosed at a later stage as patients experience few symptoms early on.
Smoking is well known to dramatically increase a person’s risk of lung cancer as is exposure to radon gas and asbestos. BC Cancer Agency researchers have proven that lung cancer found in people who have never smoked is a completely distinct disease from that seen in smokers.
Lung cancer screening
Research has proven that lung cancer screening can reduce cancer mortality by 20 per cent among high-risk individuals.
Dr. Stephen Lam and his team at the BC Cancer Agency have made significant progress in developing tools to screen lung cancer patients and reduce cancer death. Dr. Lam’s team has developed a risk prediction model based on computer-generated data that has excellent accuracy of 95 per cent. Dr. Lam’s innovative software shows great promise to make screening for lung cancer patients practical and affordable, thereby improving lung cancer survival across the province.
Donor supported research in the lab
Dr. Will Lockwood and his team are investigating the molecular (biological and DNA) drivers of lung cancers. The BC Cancer Foundation has been vital in supporting Lockwood's lab, which has made significant progress in advancing the understanding of lung cancer and in identifying potential new treatment options. Recently, he discovered a new small molecule inhibitor (drug) that selectively kills lung cancer while sparing healthy cells and the team is now investigating how this drug works and which patients are most likely to respond to it.
Clinical trials to assess new treatment options
Drs. Cheryl Ho and Nevin Murray are leading multiple Phase II and Phase III clinical trials to assess new treatment options for lung cancer patients. In addition, lung cancer specialist Dr. Janessa Laskin is the clinical lead for the Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) Program which has enrolled a number of lung cancer patients to identify potential targets within the cancer’s DNA and RNA and match them with potential treatment options.