#CANCERSM Chat topic 11-Jul-2019: Basics of Biomarker Testing

Until just a few years ago, chemotherapy was often the only option for some cancer patients.  In just a few short years, molecular therapies and immunotherapies have become commonplace as treatments for cancer patients.  But determining whether a particular cancer patient is a candidate for these new, often very expensive, molecular and immunotherapies requires molecular biomarker testing.  For many cancer patients and their families, the role of molecular biomarker testing in their diagnosis is a unfamiliar and confusing.  How is testing performed?  How is the test result analyzed? What is involved in getting helpful answers from biomarker testing?  Does liquid biopsy have a role?

Pathologists are specialized doctors responsible for answering these questions.  They identify any cancer cells in the biopsied specimen, and guide the patient’s biomarker testing. Unfortunately, pathologists do not typically speak with patients, so patients and families–and even some doctors–often do not have a clear understanding of the role of molecular biomarker testing in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers.  Learning more about the basics of biomarker testing can help patients and families cut through the hype about biomarker testing, understand the patient’s specific disease more thoroughly, and learn what biomarker test results mean to the patient’s cancer treatment.

Please join moderator and pathologist Dr. Timothy Craig Allen (@TimAllenMDJD) at 8 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, July 11, 2019, for a discussion about the basics of biomarker testing, a subject potentially affecting all cancer patients and doctors.  We will cover the following topics:

  • T1: What is a biomarker and how is it identified?
  • T2: What is biomarker testing and what is it used for?
  • T3: What treatment options can be identified through biomarker testing?
  • T4: What biomarker tests should be run for which types of cancers?  What is a liquid biopsy and when is useful?
  • T5: Can and should patients pursue biomarker testing for treatment options if their doctor does not offer it?

Please remember to include #cancersm in ALL your tweets so the other chat participants can see them. If you need a refresher, read the #LCSM primer on participating in a Twitter chat (the hashtag in your tweets will be #cancersm, not #LCSM). Note that some tweetchat apps (like tchat.io) will not display tweets longer than 140 characters. Hope you’ll join us!

#LCSM Chat Topic 06/20/2019: Recent Lung Cancer Conference Highlights

0BE47F53-0C1F-408A-998E-F02A7A69D7CBThe Spring and early Summer medical conference season has wrapped up!  As in other recent years, lung cancer has figured prominently at oncology meetings, including those focused on basic science, medical oncology, radiation oncology, and surgery.  Such meetings include the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the American College of Radiology (ACR), The American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and the Targeted Therapies and Small Cell Lung Cancer meetings sponsored by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC).  Findings from these meetings were tweeted with the following hashtags and twitter handles:

#AACR2019 (@AACR)



#ACR2019 (@RadiologyACR)



Not surprisingly, immunotherapy was in the spotlight at many of the meetings with a focus on optimal combinations and patient selection, on long term outcomes, and on utilization of therapeutic drugs in earlier stage disease and in small cell lung cancer. On the targeted therapy side, there has been a renewed push to identify mechanisms of resistance to approved drugs, to find new targets, and to identify new agents for these targets or for those patients who have failed previous therapy. And finally, with regard to early stage lung cancer, there remains a continued focus on early detection, on improving lung cancer screening uptake, on correlation of imaging features with biology, and on focused local therapy, whether by surgical resection or with stereotactic  radiation.

Through social media, now more than ever before, the presentations at these meetings get widely and rapidly disseminated to scientists, physicians, and patients and advocates. In particular, the lung cancer community has made a tremendous effort to engage patients and advocates at many of these meetings to get their input and feedback on what is important to them. In this #LCSM Chat, the @lcsmchat team will summarize what is new in lung cancer and describe the topics that were in focus at these national meetings. We will highlight some of the major lung cancer presentations from the meetings, but also describe the overall direction of each organization with regard to lung cancer. It is an incredible time for lung cancer patients, with better diagnostic pathways and more treatment options than ever before.  Yet lung cancer remains the most common cancer killer by far.  Obviously, we need to keep pushing, with better science, more clinical trials, and more patient education and engagement. Medical conferences are critical to accomplish that mission. With that in mind, we will address the following topics during this week’s #LCSM Chat:

T1.  How have the meetings changed over time and what is the best way for patients/advocates to understand what is important?

T2.  What were the major findings regarding immunotherapy that were presented at the meetings?

T3.  What was presented at the meetings with regard to overcoming resistance to targeted therapy?

T4.  Has there been progress in finding new therapeutic targets and in bringing new drugs to the clinic?

T5.  What is happening with regard to screening, early diagnosis, and treatment of early stage lung cancer?

Join moderator, Brendon Stiles, MD, as we explore this topic. Please remember to include #LCSM in ALL your tweets so the other chat participants can see them. If you need a refresher, read our primer on participating in the chat. Note that some tweetchat apps (like tchat.io) will not display tweets longer than 140 characters.


#LCSM Chat Topic 05/09/2019: What’s new in early stage lung cancer

Our May 9, 2019 #LCSM Chat at 8 pm Eastern (5 pm Pacific) will focus on the newest treatments for early stage lung cancer. The topic should be interesting to all who deal with early stage disease — patients, caregivers, oncology nurses, surgeons, radiologists, pulmonologists, pathologists, and oncologists.

Although we have all heard about the tremendous advances in the treatment of metastatic lung cancer, we sometimes don’t appreciate the incredible progress we have also made in diagnosing and treating early stage lung cancer. Early stage patients can realistically strive for and expect cures.

However, challenges still remain. As opposed to many other cancers, the majority of lung cancer patients currently present with metastatic disease. As we find more lung cancers through lung cancer screening programs, incidentally, or through an overall increased awareness of the disease, we hope that will change and that most patients will be diagnosed earlier. But, even for patients with stage I lung cancer, survival rates are generally not as good as those seen in other common cancers such as breast, prostate, and colon cancer. Opportunities therefore exist to markedly improve outcomes in lung cancer patients with limited (stage I) or with local-regional disease (stage II and III).

With that in mind, the @lcsmchat team will discuss recent advances in early stage lung cancer. Some think treatment paradigms in these patients will change in the coming years just as dramatically as they have for patients with metastatic lung cancer. Advances in diagnosis of hard-to-get-to lung nodules will identify lung cancers even earlier. Targeted surgical therapy will cure these cancers, while minimizing harm to patients.  Stereotactic radiation will increasingly become an alternative to surgical therapy for sicker patients and perhaps even for healthy patients. And finally, the drugs which have been so successfully targeted to patients with metastatic disease will increasingly be found to have value for patients with earlier stage disease.

Please join moderator Brendon Stiles (@BrendonStilesMD) in our May 9 #LCSM Chat to discuss cover the following topics:

  • T1. What interventional pulmonology advances might improve diagnosis of lung nodules found on CT scans?
  • T2.  What is “targeted surgical therapy”? When can lung cancer surgery take less tissue than a complete lobe (lobectomy)?
  • T3. Can stereotactic radiation be an alternative to surgery for some patients with early stage lung cancer?
  • T4.  Should targeted therapy be given to early stage lung cancer patients with driver mutations (like EGFR, ALK, ROS1, RET)?
  • T5.  Is there a role for immunotherapy in patients with early stage lung cancer?

Hope you’ll join us! Please remember to include #LCSM in ALL your tweets so the other chat participants can see them. If you need a refresher, read our primer on participating in the chat. Note that some tweetchat apps (like tchat.io) will not display tweets longer than 140 characters.

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