BC Cancer Agency Cancer Research Centre - Graduate student, Interdisciplinary Oncology, University of British Columbia

Because lung cancer is the number one cancer causing death in the world, lung cancer research is essential! Compared to other cancers, lung cancer research is often underfunded, but advancements over the past five years have been incredibly encouraging and the translation of molecular discoveries into clinical practice has happened at an extraordinary speed.

For example, the lung cancer research community has identified several new gene mutations that are “druggable,” meaning that specific therapeutic agents have been designed to treat lung tumour cells harbouring those specific mutations. These discoveries are very important because they enable personalized patient treatment by matching specific drugs to specific tumour features.

The work we do in the Lam lab, whether it be early detection research, studying lung tumour biology, or screening lung tumours to reveal novel drug targets, will lead to the development of new detection and therapeutic methods to improve patient outcomes.

Recently, I have been studying molecular and genetic differences that exist between lung tumours, including differences between adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, and between smoker and non-smoker lung tumours. The rationale for our work is that not all lung tumours are the same and thus, not all lung cancer patients should be treated with the same therapies. My colleagues and I have discovered numerous molecular features that differ between lung tumour groups which support the idea that patients may benefit from tailored treatment strategies, and this is a very exciting development.

As we continue to identify differences between various lung tumour groups, we will work closely with collaborators to test and apply our findings to patient care.

Until next time,

Kelsie