Every 14 seconds, someone is diagnosed with lung cancer.1
Today, the definition of lung cancer is very different to what it was 20 years ago. What was once treated as a single condition, is now recognised as a diverse disease made up of numerous subtypes that all work differently.2-5
Our growing understanding of the science means that people can now undergo biomarker testing and receive treatments personalised to specific genetic features or immune pathways. Advances have changed the meaning of a lung cancer diagnosis; long-term survival is now a reality for some, rather than just a possibility.5,6
While we are making significant strides against lung cancer, progress has been slower compared to other cancer types. Unfortunately, many people still face poor prognosis and do not receive the best possible care.
The earlier that lung cancer is diagnosed, the more likely it is that treatments can be effective, meaning patients may live longer.3,7 Unfortunately, there are numerous factors that can delay the diagnosis and treatment of people with lung cancer.8
The absence of symptoms in the earlier stages make it difficult to detect. When symptoms do appear, they are often unspecific and can be mistaken for other diseases.8
Screening can detect lung cancer at a much earlier stage and has been shown to reduce mortality by nearly a quarter among high-risk people. Yet very few countries have screening programmes for lung cancer.8-10
Diagnosis can be delayed due to the stigma and fear associated with lung cancer, often regarding smoking history, which may prevent people from seeking medical help, even if they are experiencing symptoms.8
Disparities in healthcare across different countries and regions mean that some people have limited or no access to innovative services that support earlier intervention in lung cancer, such as screening, testing and treatment.8
One of the most important things we can do is find the best treatment for each person with lung cancer. The discovery of specific mutations and immune pathways has transformed the way some patients are treated.3,5 However, there are still many people in need of new options. We must continue to expand our understanding of how lung cancer operates to discover potential new drug targets.
Given what we know now about the complexity of disease, comprehensive biomarker testing at diagnosis is critical to rapidly and accurately identify each patient’s subtype and match them with the most optimal treatment, as quickly as possible.
By pioneering new ways to test for lung cancer, we can provide more accurate and timely results to help find the right treatment for the right patient, as well as monitor treatment performance and detect resistance.
Our teams are working tirelessly to redefine the future of clinical care and ensure each person diagnosed receives the care that they need. To truly make a difference, we must collaborate across the community to understand, recognise and address the most important challenges for patients. Continuing to drive progress in early diagnosis, testing and innovative treatment approaches, can help redefine this disease.
There is still a long way to go, but Mark Brooke, CEO of Lung Foundation Australia, is optimistic for the future. “I think in the past three to five years, there is a sense of optimism creeping into lung cancer.”
At Roche, we are working closely with our partners – from patients and healthcare professionals to health systems and industry – towards our goal of improving the patient experience for every person, at every stage of their journey.
Jones G, et al. Recent advances in the management of lung cancer. Clin Med. 2018;1(18): s41–s46.
Cassim S, et al. Patient and carer perceived barriers to early presentation and diagnosis of lung cancer: a systematic review. BMC Cancer. 2019;19(1):25
The National Lung Screening Trial Research Team. Reduced lung-cancer mortality with low-dose computed tomographic screening. N Engl J Med. 2011.4;365(5):395-409.
de Koning HJ, et al. Reduced Lung-Cancer Mortality with Volume CT Screening in a Randomized Trial. N Engl J Med. 2020;382:503-513.