Majority of Lung Cancer Patients Willing to Undergo Additional Biopsies

LUNGevity Presents Research at World Conference on Lung Cancer; Dispels Assumptions about Patient Preferences
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Austin Courtney
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WASHINGTON, DC (December 12, 2016) – LUNGevity Foundation, the nation’s leading lung cancer-focused organization, presented four patient-focused research projects during the recent International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer’s 17th Annual World Conference on Lung Cancer in Vienna, Austria. LUNGevity was represented by President and Chairman Andrea Ferris and Director of Research and Policy Upal Basu Roy, MPH, PhD, who presented the four Foundation abstracts.

The Foundation’s oral presentation focused on understanding whether lung cancer patients are willing to undergo additional biopsies at different points of their treatment.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that healthcare providers do not recommend additional biopsies to their patients, based on their assumption that patients are likely to refuse. LUNGevity’s research shows that three-quarters of lung cancer patients are willing to undergo an additional biopsy if they understand the potential benefit, regardless of whether they reported any pain or complications from their initial biopsy at the time of diagnosis. Furthermore, 82% of lung cancer patients are willing to have an additional biopsy if it can help their health care team better match treatment to their specific cancer.

LUNGevity’s findings suggest that there may be a mismatch between patients’ willingness to undergo additional biopsies and physicians’ assumptions, and have the following implications for stakeholders:

  • Physicians can best assist their patients by discussing the benefits and the risks of an additional biopsy, and how it may help decide the course of treatment.
  • It is critically important for patients to ask their doctors about new treatments and discuss the need for additional biopsies if necessary. Understanding the end benefit of having the test is an important piece of communication.
  • Patient advocacy organizations can play an important role in educating patients and physicians about having an open dialogue to help patients become equal partners in their treatment decision-making.

The study reinforces the importance of a patient-centric model in medicine in which meaningful and timely information is provided to patients, enabling them to be more active participants in charting the course of their own care. This study is in keeping with a key element of LUNGevity’s initiatives: representing the voice and needs of lung cancer patients. Funding for the study was provided by AstraZeneca.

“As lung cancer research and treatment options have advanced rapidly over the last few years, additional tumor biopsies have become increasingly important for clinical decision-making and for research into understanding the biology of the disease over time,” said Lecia V. Sequist, MD, a lung cancer medical oncologist from Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and a member of the LUNGevity Scientific Advisory Board. “An educated patient can be an equal partner with their oncologist in deciding among therapeutic options. This study confirms that oncologists should not be timid about gathering input from patients regarding performing biopsies.”

In addition to presenting research on “Willingness for Multiple Biopsies to Improve Quality of Lung Cancer Care: Understanding the Patient Perspective,” LUNGevity also presented three posters from research findings on the following Foundation-led studies:

  • Need for Consistent Language Around Biomarker Testing in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Lung Cancer; funding provided by Pfizer.
  • Estimating Time Equivalents for Cancer Side Effects Among Lung Cancer Survivors and Caregivers: A Discrete-Choice Experiment - in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University; funding provided by Celgene.
  • Treating Cachexia-Anorexia in Lung Cancer Patients: Understanding the Patient Perspective on Novel Treatment Approaches; funding provided by Helsinn.

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About Lung Cancer in the U.S.

  • About 1 in 15 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime
  • More than 224,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year
  • About 60%-65% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or are former smokers
  • Lung cancer takes more lives than the next four deadliest cancers (colorectal, pancreatic, breast, and prostate) combined
  • Only 18% of all people diagnosed with lung cancer will survive 5 years or more, BUT if it’s caught before it spreads, the chance for 5-year survival improves dramatically