Lung cancer ranks first among cancer deaths in the world and in our country. Every year, more than 2 million people in the world and more than 40 thousand people in our country are diagnosed with 'lung cancer', of which smoking is the most important risk factor. Although it is one of the most feared cancer types today, thanks to the important developments in its diagnosis and treatment, the life expectancy of patients is extended and their quality of life is increased. So much so that when diagnosed early; With the treatment protocol in which immunotherapy, targeted therapy and chemotherapy methods are combined, patients can continue their healthy and active lives for many years.
Acıbadem Maslak Hospital Medical Oncology Specialist Prof. Dr. Özlem Er pointed out that today the treatment of lung cancer is planned specifically for the patient and that very successful results have been obtained from the treatment, “Lung cancer is basically divided into two as 'small cell' and 'non-small cell'. Small cell lung cancer is treated at an early stage with the combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In the extensive stage, the success of the treatment increases with the combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Non-small cell lung cancer, on the other hand, includes many diseases with different molecular characteristics. For this reason, the most appropriate treatment for the patient's tumor is selected with personalized precision medicine methods. Medical Oncology Specialist Prof. Dr. Özlem Er talked about groundbreaking developments in the treatment of lung cancer; made important warnings.
Immunotherapy; It is a treatment method based on the principle of recognizing and eliminating cancer cells by stimulating immune cells in the body. Immunotherapy, which activates cells such as macrophages, NK cells and T lymphocytes, which are members of the immune system, is basically applied to strengthen the immune system of the person. Medical Oncology Specialist Prof. Dr. Özlem Er states that the most used drugs in immunotherapy today are antibodies, which are immune checkpoint inhibitors (suppressors), and continues:
“Checkpoint inhibitors, that is, antibodies, are drugs that provide significant improvement in many cancers and their use is becoming increasingly common today. These special molecules eliminate the natural brake mechanism in the immune system and enable the activation of T cells that recognize and attack the cancerous cell. The molecules act by blocking 'checkpoint proteins' that stop the immune system from attacking cancerous cells."
Chemotherapy; A treatment method that damages cancer cells by preventing them from growing and multiplying. Rapidly proliferating cells are destroyed by chemotherapy treatment. Today, it is possible to prevent side effects in chemotherapy applications with supportive treatments. In this way, side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and decrease in blood values can be prevented. prof. Dr. Emphasizing that chemotherapy is the most important part of the treatment in small cell lung cancer, Özlem Er said, “This is because chemotherapy is effective in rapidly proliferating cells in small cell lung cancer and chemotherapy and immunotherapy are applied together in diffuse disease. These methods yield very successful results,” he says.
Targeted therapy is what is known as “smart drugs”. By identifying targets that enable cancer cells to grow and multiply, cell growth is stopped with these special molecules. In this way, side effects that occur in normal cells are minimized. Targeted therapies, especially in non-small cell lung cancer, are arranged according to the genomic characteristics of the tumor, in other words, the molecular level of the cell. More than 10 targets called EGFR, ALK, ROS, BRAF, MET, RET are tested in the cell to determine the appropriate molecule. Medical Oncology Specialist Prof. Dr. Özlem Er says, “Thanks to the choice of treatment according to its molecular characteristics, the effectiveness of the treatment is high, the side effects are low, and the life span of the patients is significantly prolonged in both early-stage and advanced-stage lung cancer.”
If you smoke… Attention!
Smoking is the most important cause of lung cancer, responsible for 90 percent! The earlier the age to start smoking, the higher the risk of developing lung cancer. Lung cancer is a rapidly progressive disease when detected in advanced stages. Therefore, early diagnosis is vital. Medical Oncology Specialist Prof. Dr. Pointing out that low-dose radiation computed tomography is an effective and least risky method in the early diagnosis of lung cancer, Özlem Er said, “People between the ages of 20-50 who have smoked a pack of cigarettes a day or more for 77 years, those who are still smoking and those who have been smoking for more than 15 years. Those who recently quit smoking constitute the risk group. For early diagnosis, people in the risk group should be screened with low-dose computed tomography of the lung once a year.