Are Side Effects More Severe for Lung Cancer Patients With Multiple Mutations?

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Topics include: Treatment

What options are available for lung cancer patients with multiple genetic mutations? What kind of side effects do these treatments have? Watch now to hear Dr. Christine Lovly from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center discuss combination therapies in current clinical trials that target multiple mutations in lung cancer patients and their potential side effects. 


The Living Well with Lung Cancer series was a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power. We thank Celgene, Helsinn, Novartis and Genentech for their support. 

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

Here's one that came in from Carol, and she asks, Do you believe in the use of drug cocktails, two or more targeted therapy drugs used together to treat patients with more than one mutation, and does that mean more intense side effects?  So I know we've been looking at different mutations, Christine, for what is your version of lung cancer, trying to see what's driving it, and so you may say well, I'm going to you use drug A and drug B, there's some evidence for that, but does that mean they're going to get hammered even more? 

Dr. Lovly:

Yes. So this is a great question especially for 2017 where we often for lung cancers will test for mutations in several hundred genes at the same time and find more than one mutation.

I would say, first, I personally if—if there's more than one mutation present in a tumor and a there's not an FDA?approved combination therapy for those joint mutations together, I would strongly encourage any patient to consider a clinical trial.  I'll give you an example.  Sometimes EGFR mutation can co?occur with MET mutations, and there are drugs that target both EGFR and MET, two mutations that can be found in lung cancer. 

There are clinical trials of how do you put those drugs together that really—the clinical trial helps us as a community to advance our treatments to understand what gives us the best anti?tumor results but to also understand how the drugs may work together to produce more or less side effects.  There are lots of examples where two drugs put together will give you more side effects than either one alone. 

There are actually also some examples, and I will specifically refer to melanoma, where there are two drugs that go together, two targeted therapies that go together that's now FDA approved for treatment of patients with BRAF-mutant melanoma, and those two combination drugs together actually have less side effects than one drug alone.  And so you really need the clinical trials to be able to systematically get this data and this evidence to offer our patients everywhere the best therapy with the lowest cost in terms of toxicity. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on January 31, 2018