Thank you AstraZeneca for sponsoring this post. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Now more than ever, there is reason for hope. Please visit LIVE W.E.L.L. and LVNG With Lung Cancer for more information.

I feel like these days it's hard to find someone who hasn't been touched by cancer in some way, whether you have been affected personally or know someone who has been, it seems like cancer is a word we are all familiar with.  Although cancer is seemingly so pervasive, creating a dialogue about it is incredibly difficult for most of us. Maybe we just don't like to talk about things that can potentially have such a destructive force on our lives, or the lives of loved ones. As someone who has had friends and family affected by cancer, and even lost loved ones to cancer, it is extremely important to me to help open the dialogue about cancer with my friends, family and you all.  One cancer that has affected me personally is lung cancer, having lost my great uncle to it.  November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, so I really wanted to take the time to talk about cancer and lung cancer specifically to create awareness for the topic.

In the United States, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, accounting for approximately 154,000 deaths each year and about one-quarter of all cancer deaths – more than breast, prostate and colorectal cancers combined.  Lung cancer is not just one disease; about 80 to 85 percent have non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and about 10 to 15 percent of patients have small cell lung cancer, and each category has many different subtypes within it. Because there are different types of lung cancer, when someone is diagnosed, it’s important to understand the specific characteristics of the disease, so they can find out which types of treatment are most appropriate for them. This is the crux of “personalized medicine” – ensuring each patient is treated according to the specific characteristics of their unique diagnosis.  It is so important to talk with your health care providers about personalized medicine if you or a loved one is diagnosed with lung cancer to ensure you are getting the best treatment you can.  Lung cancers have certain “biomarkers,” which are unique traits of each individual lung cancer that can help patients and their doctors understand its specific characteristics and can play a role in determining what types of medicines the cancer is most likely to respond to. Biomarkers can be identified through “biomarker testing” to inform treatment approaches for each patient. This is often considered a form of “personalized medicine,” which includes treatments specially designed for certain tumor characteristics. Personalized medicines include targeted treatments for lung cancer with certain biomarkers, such as the epidermal growth factor (EGFR) mutation. EGFR is a protein found on the surface of some cells to which epidermal growth factor binds, causing the cells to divide. It is a common mutation of NSCLC, for which targeted medicines are available.

It is very encouraging that healthcare providers are able to determine personalized treatments for each patient diagnosed with lung cancer to determine the best options for them.  Even so, lung cancer treatment is a big decision, and patients deserve the best option for them from the get-go. Just as a team coach wants to draft the best player first rather than wait until a later draft round, there is no type of cancer where you shouldn’t choose your best option first for your specific type of disease. In order to get the best first, you have to test first.  Although a critical factor, the choice of treatment comes down to more than just the effectiveness of a medicine – it can also depend on if and where the cancer has spread, like the brain for example, and the safety, tolerability and convenience of a given therapy. All these factors can help dictate what the best option may be, with the goal of living significantly longer without tumors spreading, while being able to truly live life with lung cancer.  Given the complexity of these decisions, it is also very important for patients to have a comprehensive medical team that they trust, comprised of nurses, oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, and more. Each part of the medical team has a unique expertise and can provide critical insight throughout the treatment journey.  The bottom line is that patients should be their own advocates: get tested for the right treatment options, wait for the results and start on the best option first.

Because November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, I have made it my mission to spread the word about lung cancer awareness and encourage you all to do the same.  If you personally know of anyone affected or diagnosed with lung cancer it's so important to encourage them to become their own health advocate by fully understanding their diagnosis and talking to their healthcare providers about the best options for them and their diagnosis.  There is reason for hope now more than ever so please reach out to your healthcare providers to come up with your own personalized plan if you or someone you love is affected by lung cancer in any way.  Please visit LIVE W.E.L.L. and LVNG With Lung Cancer for more information and feel free to share this post and those links with anyone you know that is affected by lung cancer!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
XOXO Cassie

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.