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Expert Highlights Importance of Molecular Testing in Patients With Lung Cancer

Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD
Published Online:12:38 PM, Wed August 14, 2019

Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and executive director for the Center for Thoracic Oncology, Tisch Cancer Institute, Mount Sinai Health System, shares a message with oncologists regarding molecular testing in patients with lung cancer. He says the most important message is that molecular characterization of the patient’s tumor must be done in order to best treat the patient.

It sounds simple, but Hirsch says not all patients with lung cancer undergo molecular testing at this time, especially in the community setting. It is not natural in that setting to get molecular testing on every patient’s tumor, but it is necessary.

Today’s lung cancer treatments are mainly based on the molecular profile of patients, especially in the setting of advanced disease. Understanding a patient’s molecular profile is essential in selecting the right treatment.

Hirsch also notes that rare mutations should not be ignored; if a rare mutation is found in a patient, they can enroll to a clinical trial that could potentially impact the development of new drugs. If a mutation or abnormality is infrequent, it is important to test for it anyway, Hirsch concludes. The patient with that rare mutation or fusion may be an exact match for a clinical trial.
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