Lung Cancer Awareness Month is an interesting time for me. Up until only a few months ago, I was working in a healthcare market research agency doing analytics in different online disease communities. This research was used to identify areas of opportunity for our pharmaceutical clients who were preparing to engage with the targeted community both on and offline. One of the communities I frequently investigated was the lung cancer community, and in an effort to recognize Lung Cancer Awareness Month, I would like to share some of the insights I learned.
My research involved tracking the online discussion of patients and caregivers with lung cancer, advocates for lung cancer, and healthcare providers (HCPs) who specialized in treating lung cancer. Although I don’t know anyone personally affected by lung cancer, my years of research has made me feel a close connection with this community and has taught me so much about the diagnosis.
As the majority of my research was done on very small, very rare mutations of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), I was most thankful to learn about the dynamic of mutation testing in NSCLC. One of the more shocking lessons I learned was how infrequently testing occurs (according to patient reports). Although the mutations I investigated were rare, are several targeted therapies are available for patients who have them, and it was a shame to learn that many patients went through several lines of therapy (more often than not, unsuccessfully) before finding out their mutation status. Many of these patients reported that they wished they knew about their status sooner, so that they could get on one of the “life-saving” treatments earlier.
One of the more optimistic data points I saw in recent years, however, was an increase in the number of HCPs who stressed the importance of mutation testing in NSCLC. Many of the top HCP influencers shared their hope to see these tests become part of the standard of care.
The American Nurse Today team encourages our readers to explore mutation testing in lung cancer if you are a lung cancer specialist or work with these patients frequently. Also consider engaging with the advocacy hashtag, #LCSM (Lung Cancer Social Media) on Twitter as your perspective could valuable to others who use this hashtag to seek information. Also, please explore the topic of mutation testing in lung cancer, which also may help educate your patients.