The dawn of targeted therapy for lung cancer

"Yesterday's terminal illness may already have a treatment today, and there may even be a cure tomorrow."

November 17 is World Lung Cancer Day. Lung cancer is known as the “number one killer” and is the highest ranked cancer in Hong Kong for both incidence and mortality. About 5,000 people suffer from lung cancer every year and the “Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor” (EGFR) gene mutation, which is a risk factor for lung cancer, commonly occurs in Asia, particularly in Hong Kong.

EGFR is an epidermal growth factor receptor on cancer cells. If a mutation in this gene is found, cancer cells will grow rapidly. The target drug is to slow down the growth of cancer cells by attaching to the EGFR protein, causing them to wither and die.

Mr. Lin was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2010. He underwent a surgical resection, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and has been taking targeted drugs for more than eight years – successfully stabilising his condition.

Targeted drugs are evolving rapidly, with third-generation targeted drugs now being used. Compared to traditional chemotherapy drugs, targeted therapies offer greater convenience, can control lung cancer more effectively and have relatively few side effects. To learn more, hear from Dr. Teo Man Lung Peter, a specialist in clinical oncology, below.

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