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What is Biomarker Testing and Why is it Important in Lung Cancer?

Ivy Elkins

Co-Founder and Lung Cancer Survivor, EGFR Resisters Lung Cancer Patient Group

Lung cancer is made up of many types and subtypes, with a large variety of possible treatments. About 80-85 percent of lung cancers fall into a category known as non-small cell lung cancer. If you find out that you have non-small cell lung cancer, it is very important to learn further information about the cancer in order to get the best possible treatment.

Biomarker testing is critically important in order to gather this information. It is often also called mutation or molecular testing. Through testing of cancer tissue or blood, doctors can discover a biomarker or sign that the cancer is driven by a specific change or alteration, called a mutation, that can be targeted through treatment. This can lead to you being given a targeted therapy or immunotherapy medication that is optimal for the type of lung cancer you have. Many of these treatments are FDA approved and others can be accessed through clinical trials.

While biomarker testing is most often used for advanced non-small cell lung cancer, it might also be helpful in early-stage lung cancer to determine the best way to proceed with treatment. If your doctor does not mention biomarker testing, you should definitely ask about it in order to maximize the potential for you to get the leading treatment for the specific type of non-small cell lung cancer that you have. 

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