According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1.5 million people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. August 1, 2021, is World Lung Cancer Day; a day dedicated to raising awareness of the risk factors for lung cancer and highlighting the importance of early detection and treatment advances. Researchers at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital are leaders in treatment breakthroughs, including two recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lung cancer drug approvals, bringing hope to patients and their families.
Based on results of national clinical trials led by Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD, Chief of Medical Oncology at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital and Associate Cancer Center Director for Translational Research at Yale Cancer Center, in December 2020 the FDA approved osimertinib for the treatment of adults with early-stage, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with EGFR gene mutations. The immunotherapy drug atezolizumab also won FDA approval in May 2020 for improvement in survival over standard chemotherapy for many patients with newly diagnosed NSCLC, based on research from Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital.
“These are exciting results that provide much-needed treatment options for our patients,” said Herbst. “But we continue our research to help find new therapeutics that could also be life-changing for many other patients with different types of this disease.”
Yale Cancer Center is one of three cancer centers in the country to have a SPORE (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) in Lung Cancer supported by an $11 million grant from the National Cancer Institute. The Yale SPORE in Lung Cancer harnesses the strengths of expertise in oncology, immunobiology, pharmacology, molecular biology, pathology, epidemiology, and addiction science to collaborate on projects focused on NSCLC. The focus is on three primary projects. The first project is analyzing the immune suppressor capabilities of Siglec-15 and the potential success of the Siglec-15 inhibition in patients with lung cancer with the development of predictive biomarkers. A second project is evaluating approaches to prevent tyrosine kinase inhibitor resistance in EGFR-mutant lung cancer. The third project targets lung cancer metastasis and drug resistance in the central nervous system.
Patients needing treatment for lung cancer receive care at the Center for Thoracic Cancers, a multidisciplinary program dedicated to providing cutting-edge evaluation and treatment to patients with thoracic malignancies in an efficient and coordinated manner at Smilow Cancer Hospital and at Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center locations throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island. Through the Center, patients have access to nationally recognized expert clinicians, who provide an organized, collaborative approach to cancer care, and access to the latest technologies and treatments.
World Lung Cancer Day was first organized in 2012 by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies, in collaboration with the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer and the American College of Chest Physicians. Today, it is recognized internationally by cancer societies and cancer centers to raise awareness of the disease.