The Right Mutation
When doctors discovered that Lou Ann Langley’s lung cancer had a specific genetic mutation, her life expectancy doubled.
When Lou Ann Langley broke both her ankles, her orthopedist ordered a series of CT scans before surgery. Surprisingly, he also discovered a tumor on Lou Ann’s lungs that turned out to be lung cancer. Although she felt no symptoms, the cancer had already spread to her brain. The outlook was grim.
During Lou Ann’s first visit, medical oncologist Laurie Carr, MD, noted that Lou Ann had never smoked and ordered a genetic test. People who have not smoked but still get lung cancer are more likely to have a specific genetic mutation driving the rapid cell proliferation that occurs in cancer. Lou Ann did indeed have that mutation.
Thanks to a revolution in lung cancer care, several new medications have been approved in recent years that attack specific cancercausing mutations. Lou Ann began therapy with one of those drugs. It does not cure the cancer, but with discovery of the mutation and treatment with a targeted therapy, Lou Ann’s life expectancy doubled.