From OHC

November 29, 2021

Contact: Joanie Manzo
Director, Marketing & Physician Services
513-751-2145 x10143

Although lung cancer is most frequently attributed to smoking, OHC’s cancer specialists are seeing an increase in the incidence of lung cancer in “never smokers,” those who have never smoked or who have smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes. We do not yet have an explanation for this phenomenon, but a recent study revealed some hopeful news for this patient population—we already have targeted therapies at our disposal for 80-90 percent of never smokers with lung cancer.

“About 10-15 percent of lung cancer cases in the U.S. occur in those who have never smoked, and 60 percent of these cases are in women,” said OHC medical oncologist and hematologist, Jayadev Mettu, MD. A recent study conducted by a team from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis revealed that tumors in never smokers are vastly different than those in smokers. Specifically, the study analyzed adenocarcinoma tumors (the most common primary lung cancer in the U.S.) in 160 patients with no smoking history. Most of these tumors had driver mutations (changes) that caused them to grow, and these tumors could be effectively treated with drugs already approved by the FDA.

“Driver mutations are variations in a person’s DNA that give a cancer cell significant growth advantage,” said Dr. Mettu. “Only about half of the tumors in smokers have driver mutations. More research is required to determine when these mutations occur as only seven percent of the never smokers in the study had mutations at birth.”

“Two key takeaways from the study results are that we already have excellent precision therapies available to successfully treat lung cancer in never smokers, and we need to obtain tumor biopsies with enough genetic material to identify treatable mutations,” noted Dr. Mettu.

OHC medical oncologist and hematologist Suzanne M. Partridge, MD, provided a thorough explanation of precision therapies and genomic testing in her recent blog found here: At birth, most of our cells have a complete copy of our genetic information, our genome. Genes are comprised of DNA consisting of the instructions for our growth and development. All cancers are caused by genetic mutations. Cells with too many mutations can continue to grow and divide resulting in cancer. Genomic technology enables doctors to look at the genetic material of a tumor biopsy (tissue sample), determine its molecular profile, and select a precision therapy that specifically targets that profile.

Because lung cancer is becoming increasingly personalized with treatments tailored to the unique cellular characteristics of tumors, OHC is participating in the MYLUNG study. This is an observational study to help us determine how to best leverage molecular testing and treatment assignment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). If you are over the age of 18 and have been diagnosed with NSCLC, you can make a difference by enrolling in this research, which will not affect your current treatment. For more information on lung cancer and the MYLUNG study, or to request a second opinion, call 1-888-649-4800 or visit

OHC (Oncology Hematology Care) has been fighting cancer on the front lines for more than 35 years. We are the region’s leading experts in the treatment of nearly every form of adult cancer and complex blood disorder. OHC offers the latest medical, gynecologic and radiation therapy, and is always seeking better treatment options through its nationally recognized cancer research and clinical trials program. OHC is the first — and most experienced — independent adult cancer practice in the region to offer the ground-breaking CAR-T therapy for adults. OHC is certified by the American Society of Clinical Oncology in the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative Certification Program and is one of only a select few cancer practices nationally to be accepted to participate in the Oncology Care Model, part of The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation. At its heart, our approach to cancer care is simple — to surround you with everything you need so you can focus on what matters most: beating cancer. For more information about OHC, or a second opinion, call 1-888-649-4800 or visit

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