I am truly excited about what the next decade of lung cancer research will uncover. Technological advancements such as whole genome sequencing and imaging modalities have played a huge role in lung cancer research achievements over the past few years. Improvements in sequencing technology and data analysis tools have greatly facilitated the identification of genetic alterations in tumour samples which has led to the development of new targeted therapies. Advances in imaging technology have significantly improved the ability of doctors to detect lung abnormalities earlier.
If I had to pick three key topics to focus on in lung cancer research over the next ten years, they would be 1) continued study of never and former smoker lung cancer, 2) early detection research, and 3) research into the development of drug resistance in lung cancer patients.
We are already seeing promising results, both here in B.C. and from our international colleagues: in 2010, the results of the National Lung Screening Trial revealed that patients scanned with low-dose CT scans showed an amazing 20% reduction in lung cancer mortality in comparison with patients screened with chest X-rays.
At the BC Cancer Agency’s annual conference in December, a speaker from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre talked about their Lung Cancer Mutation Analysis Project (LC-MAP). LC-MAP is a pipeline developed for screening patient tumour samples in order to match them with known drugs or new drugs in clinical trials to personalize lung cancer patient care. Several papers have since been published describing novel lung cancer mutations that represent the next wave of molecular targets. The consistent progress that is being made in lung cancer research at ours and other institutions is evidence that donations to support lung cancer research are funds well invested.