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Hak Choy, M.D. Answers Questions On Lung Cancer

Hak Choy, M.D. Answers Questions On: Lung Cancer

What new treatments are being used today for lung cancer?

Early on in my career, the focus was on taxanes. More recently, the exciting area is combining molecular-targeted drugs with radiation.

What are targeted drugs?

These are drugs that take advantage of the specific genetic makeup of a tumor, which can be different for each patient. EGFR inhibitors and drugs like crizotinib are popular agents that may offer an advantage when combined with radiation by increasing sensitivity of the tumor without adding more toxicity to normal tissue. For example, about 4 percent of patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma – typically young non-smokers – have a chromosomal rearrangement that generates a certain fusion gene, which is thought to promote malignancy. The activity of this fusion gene is inhibited by crizotinib. Patients treated with this drug may see their tumor respond faster to radiation, thus increasing the efficacy of the treatment or perhaps reducing the amount of treatment that needs to be given, sparing healthy tissue. These are the kinds of therapeutics that are offering more hope to our patients now. 

What part does technology play?

Here at UT Southwestern, we have a unique opportunity to treat our patients with the most advanced technology combined with the most recent drugs. Treatments can be tailored or customized for their needs. With lung cancer, targeted imaging and delivery of radiation is particularly important. We have the latest technology – some of it is the first of its kind in North America – to help facilitate extremely accurate treatment.