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The field of cancer treatment, especially that of lung cancer, is rapidly evolving. Nowadays, new advances in techniques and medicines are turning lung cancer diagnoses into something less lethal. Dr. Anand Sachithanandan, a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon and Dr. Tho Lye Mun, our consultant clinical oncologist at Beacon Hospital, discuss the advent of personalized medicine and what it means for the future of lung cancer treatment.

Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses strong drugs to kill cancer cells that’s in the process may kill other cells, which is why patients experience various side effects. However, newer treatment options such as immunotherapeutic and immune system modulating agents, are changing the lung cancer treatment game, in which the patients suffer little to none of the devastating side effects that chemotherapy brings. By the use of genetic or molecular profiling, doctors can also identify the major mutations that exist in a tumour and prescribe the best medication for it. The use of more current imaging methods like the use of fusion positron emission tomography/ computed tomography (PET/CT), is the best way to determine the size, location and spread of the cancer, or if it is even cancerous to start with.

Downstaging is a process used if the tumour is too big or too close to major blood vessels, medication can be given to shrink it to a smaller size to allow surgical removal (resection). With modern targeted therapies and immunotherapies, the 5-year survival of some advanced disease patients can be as high as 25%. Dr. Tho also discusses about the unique population of lung cancer patients – these are Chinese women, never smokers and usually in their 40s and 50s. There is research to show a link between stir-frying and lung cancer.

Source: Health Magazine “Pew! Pew! Pew! Die, Lung Cancer, Die!” 

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