From Patrick J. Ward, MD, PhD, Medical Oncologist, Hematologist and Co-Director of OHC’s Research Department

June 30, 2021

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. OHC is taking steps towards changing that. Through our continued research and patient education, my OHC colleagues and I are bringing hope to patients.

Research keeps us on the path to finding a cure for cancer. We know the rate of lung cancer cases for men has declined, but incidences are on the rise in women between the ages of 30-49 who have never smoked. We also know that most lung cancers are caused by smoking. So, what is causing the increase in young female non-smokers? More research needs to be done. A common theory is a possible genetic variation between men and women.

About five years ago, I met Frances Lewis, a stage IVB non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patient. After evaluating her, I recommended that she participate in a clinical trial. “When I received the diagnosis, I was extremely scared,” said Frances. “My daughters were with me, and I could see the fear in their eyes too. After reviewing the detailed information Dr. Ward and his team of research nurses provided, we held a family meeting and agreed this was the best option for me,” added Frances.

After discovering that Frances’ cancer spread to the lymph nodes on one side of her neck, she underwent radiation treatment with OHC radiation oncologist Joseph N. Shaughnessy, MD, and then began immunotherapy as a part of a clinical trial. Eventually, the immunotherapy stopped working, so I turned to other molecular testing. “I had molecular testing which identified markers that I had,” said Frances. “The testing helped Dr. Ward select a treatment for me. The treatment has kept me stable for over two-and-a-half years,” added Frances.

These treatments allowed Frances to maintain a high quality of life. While she experienced some fatigue and nausea, she remained active by swimming and gardening. When asked what she would say to anyone hesitant to enroll in a clinical trial, Frances replied, “It’s a very personal decision. You have to do your research. The clinical trial nurses at OHC were excellent in providing me with a lot of information. Take the information from your healthcare team and discuss it with people you trust.”

According to the American Lung Association, more Americans than ever are surviving lung cancer much to the credit of treatment advances in immunotherapies and targeted therapies. My team of cancer experts at OHC continue our clinical investigation into immunotherapy treatments. We have a program investigating a novel drug, tiragolumab in combination with atezolizumab. This offers another treatment option, and hope, for patients with NSCLC, a disease often diagnosed at advanced stages.

Keep in mind that the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recently updated its lung cancer screening guidelines. Refer to our web site for the latest information: http://ohcare.com/take-steps-reduce-risk-cancer/. Lung cancer is more curable when detected at earlier stages.

To discover more about cancer prevention and OHC’s cancer research program, visit ohcare.com or call 1-888-649-4800.

Top picture: During a check-up, Frances Lewis (second from the right) catches up with members of OHC’s Blue Ash team, Pam Johnson, Medical Assistant Supervisor, Dr. Ward, and Tori Budde, Nurse Navigator.

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