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Lung cancer treatments and medicine advances

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 by Jolene Toves

Guam - There are many types of cancers that affect various parts of the body. Recent breakthroughs have helped battle lung cancer.

More people in the united sates die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. Likewise on Guam lung cancer accounts for the highest amount of death amongst men and women, therefore it is important to detect lung cancer early that it may be cured with surgery and treated through personalized treatment.

Cedar Sinai medical oncologist Ronald Natale said, "You have to understand that cancer is a disease of mutations in which carcinogens in the environment or in the case of smokers that get lung cancer the carcinogen is in cigarette smoke."

Natale says that cancer damages the DNA of normal cells in the body converting them to cancer cells. Those mutations are often the driving force of the cancer. But hope is not lost as over the last few years there have been breakthroughs and increasing success in finding the specific mutations that are responsible for each individuals cancer, adding, "And developing medicines that target those mutations they are much more effective and much less toxic than standard chemotherapy."

Another breakthrough has also been made in trying to get the immune system to fight the cancer. This has been an effort that has been over 30 years in the making.  "In the past we try to vaccinate the body what we didn't know until recently is that the body is already vaccinated against many cancers but the cancers have a way of evading the immune system by blocking the ability of the immune system to fight the cancer," he said.

But now they understand how the process works and have developed new medicines that can block the process of evading the immune system allowing the immune system to attack the cancer more effectively. Natale says that when someone develops signs and symptoms of lung cancer that's when it unfortunately too late as 90 percent of those who have symptoms of lung cancer won't survive the key in fighting lung cancer is prevention and early detection. If cancer is caught early the cure rate through surgery and medicine is greater than 50 percent. 
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