Tag Archive for: chemotherapy

A Look at Lower Intensity Chemotherapy in Untreated AML

A Look at Lower Intensity Chemotherapy in Untreated AML from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Dr. Naval Daver from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center discusses whether untreated acute myeloid leukemia (AML) can be treated with lower intensity chemotherapy.

[ACT]IVATION TIP from Dr. Daver: “Ask your physician and your oncologist when you’re talking with them about what all the newest therapies are and what would be specifically the best treatment for their specific leukemia with respect to the different mutations.”

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Transcript: 

Art:

Dr. Daver, what are we learning about patients with untreated AML who are ineligible for intensive chemotherapy? Will intensive chemotherapy, a thing of the past, in the near future?

Dr. Naval Daver:

There has been a major shift over the last four or five years towards using lower intensity combinations, such as azacitidine (Onureg or Vidaza) and venetoclax (Venclexta) and patients who are definitely about 75 and not fit for intensive induction. I don’t think anybody debates in that population, but even in patients 60 to 75 years away, you are borderline, and maybe we could give intensive induction chemotherapy and get patients to through it with support of care, antifungals, antibiotics by close monitoring, but we’re seeing similar remission rates with azacitidine (Vidaza), venetoclax (Venclexta), much less toxicity, less mortality, and especially the goal is to get a number of these patients to allogeneic stem cell transplant, which it is.

Then we feel that the lower intensity, better tolerated, smoother remission getting patients in a good condition an allogeneic transplant may be the way to go now, of course, to really make the standard of care, we have to look at this in a randomized fashion to make sure that what we believe is actually what the data is going to confirm, so there is an ongoing randomized study looking at the azacitidine and venetoclax intensity versus the traditional intensive chemotherapy called three plus seven in patients 18 to 65 years of age, and that…then you will, I think, give us a lot of information and data as for whether we can start for placing intensive chemotherapy for a large proportion or majority of AML patients, even those who are younger.

Today, I don’t think that in terms of chemotherapies are a thing of the past, I think those patients who are below 60 or even those who are 60 to 65, who are routinely doing intensive induction chemotherapy, one has to realize that the five-year survival for many molecular subsets are close to 50 to 60 percent with intensive induction chemotherapy, whereas with HMA venetoclax in the older unit, we’re looking at three to five-year survival rates of about 30 percent, so we have still not seen data and younger patients with Hamas to be convinced that this will replace intensive chemotherapy altogether, I think the signal suggests that there is a potential for it to do so, especially with the use of allergenic tensor as plan, which we’re using quite frequently and…or maintenance.

But that has not yet been established. So I would still say we do use intensive chemo in those who are young and fit, so my activation tip for this is that there has been a lot of progress in the lower intensity therapies over the last six or seven years. 

A decade ago would not even be asking whether there’s anything that can replace intensive chemo today we do have data with HMA venetoclax that suggest that it may be as good as intensive chemo looking at the response rates MRD negativity, and especially with three drug combinations where adding targeted therapies to HMA venetoclax, those response rates and depth of response looking as good, if not better, than intensive chemo there are randomized studies ongoing that are going to be looking at intensive chemotherapy versus HMA venetoclax and if those show equivalents or superiority for HMA venetoclax, I think in the next five, six years there will be a huge shift towards less use of intense and chemotherapy in the frontline setting, but we’re not there yet. 

What Different AML Subtypes Are More Prevalent in Certain Demographics?

What Different AML Subtypes Are More Prevalent in Certain Demographics? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Are some acute myeloid leukemia (AML) subtypes more common in some demographic groups? Dr. Naval Daver from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center discusses different forms of AML. Learn about the extent of knowledge about AML subtype demographics.

[ACT]IVATION TIP from Dr. Daver: “Patients, when they transformed what we call secondary AML or MDS, seemed to have a higher predilection for certain high-risk communications such as TP53, and these are best treated with ongoing frontline clinical trials at large academic centers.

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Transcript: 

Art:

Dr. Daver, what are the different subtypes of AML, are various subtypes more prevalent in certain demographics?

Dr. Naval Daver:

The main way we have classified AML has actually been changing, so when we talk about subtypes  there are actually two different classification systems like WHO and the ICC or ELM classification system. Traditionally, we have been using the ELM for prognostic classification of AML, this divides patients into three major buckets, what we call a favorable intermediate and adverse, and these are based on the underlying chromosome cytogenetics abnormalities and molecular or next-generation sequencing profile of the patients.

In general, in AML there has actually been limited data and publications regarding the demographic distribution, whether it’s regional or racial or cultural, one of the things that we do know, for example, in acute lymphoblastic leukemia is that in the Hispanic population, there seems to be higher frequency of things like FLT3-positive ALL. 

But in the AML population, there actually does not seem to be, at least based on published data, huge differences in the molecular or cytogenetic presentation. We have seen some data from different countries that there may be a difference in the prevalence of communications across different regions. For example, in Japan, we do see that the incidence of FLT3 and NPM1 appears to be lower than what has been reported in the United States.

Also, we see in Europe and United States, the incidence of these mutations with FLT3, NPM1 is similar, and then we are seeing in some of the larger academic centers in the U.S., there is an enrichment of referral of patients with TP53, which is very adverse and most difficult to treat mutation, and a lot of that we think is because patients with solid tumors and with other hematological malignancies are surviving longer with the CAR-T therapies, immunotherapies, and because it is over time, they have a risk of developing second AML, which is enriched for TP53 mutation, so we do see over the last two decades that from TP53, which used to be about 5 percent to 10 percent, is now up to 20 percent to 25 percent of AML and growing in proportion because it’s better survival and solid tumors and lymphomas.  

The activation tip related to this question is that in general, they don’t review discrepancies based on geography and race, and region in the molecular cytogenetics. However, we do see differences in patients who have received prior chemotherapy, radiation therapy, AML therapy for other solid tumors and lymphoma.

These patients, when they transformed what we call secondary AML or MDS, seemed to have a higher predilection for certain high-risk communications such as TP53, and these are best treated with ongoing frontline clinical trials at large academic centers. 

What Promising AML Treatments Are Available for Newly Diagnosed Patients?

What Promising AML Treatments Are Available for Newly Diagnosed Patients? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What do newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients have for promising treatment options? Dr. Naval Daver from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center discusses progress in available treatments. Learn about therapies determined by key factors.

[ACT]IVATION TIP from Dr. Daver: “It’s very important to really consider all the available treatment options and if needed to seek consultation with an expert or academic center to get the most up-to-date treatments available for AML.

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Transcript: 

Art:

Dr. Daver, for newly diagnosed AML patients, what are the latest and most promising available therapies?

For newly diagnosed AML at this time, the most promising agents include targeted therapies and BCL-2 inhibitor treatments, these are non-chemotherapeutic drugs, and we’ve seen great progress in the application of these as well as recent FDA approvals.

So one of these is an agent called venetoclax (Venclexta), which is a BCL-2 inhibitor and venetoclax in combination with hypomethylating agents such as azacitidine (Onureg or Vidaza) has shown a response to close to 75 percent. 

And the nice thing is that this regimen can be given and patients who are older than 70, 75 years of age, and even those who are having comorbidities are not fit for traditional intensive chemotherapy with similar response rates, so this has been approved in the last couple of years for the frontline treatment of AML, and we’ve been using this combination of venetoclax and azacitidine quite frequently with high efficacy in this patient population, the other new agents that have shown breakthroughs in AML are the targeted therapies, these include FLT3 inhibitors that target the FLT3 mutation and these have shown good activity, but the single agents with gilteritinib (Xospata) being approved in the relapsed refractory setting as a single agent where gilteritinib showed a response rate of about 50 percent as a single oral targeted therapy in relapsed FLT3-mutated AML, which is actually better than the response rate with high-dose combination more where the response rate is only about 25 to 30 percent.

So, gilteritinib is now approved, and it’s now moving and being evaluated in frontline setting other FLT3 inhibitors like lestaurtinib (CEP-701), actually just recently completed frontline studies showing improved outcome when lestaurtinib added to intensive chemo versus just intensive chemo in FLT3 in AML. And we hope and think there’s a good chance lestaurtinib will be approved in the near future.

And also IDH inhibitors have been approved both in the relapsed setting, frontline setting, and now we even have a third group of targeted therapy is called the menin inhibitors, they target MLL rearrangement and NPM1 mutations, which are seen in about 15 percent to 20 percent of the AML, so there’s been a lot of progress.

All of this in the last seven years, six, seven years with multiple targeted therapies, with multiple inhibitor-based treatments, showing progress in AML and then also recently, the concept of maintenance therapy, this is something we used for the last couple of decades in a acute lymphoblastic leukemia and multiple myeloma and in lymphoma.

But we had not had clear data in AML, but the recent study using oral formulation of a azacitidine in CC486 has shown the maintenance in patients who complete an induction consolidation and could not go to allogeneic stem cell transplant for one reason or the other was important and improve both overall survival and relapse-free survival, and so this is the first time now we have an FDA-approved and standard use of maintenance therapy after the traditional induction consolidation, so even changing the general paradigm of AML therapy.

So a lot has changed in the last seven to eight years in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia, and this is very exciting.

And the activation tip related, this question is that there are multiple new targeted and low intensity therapeutic options available for patients with acute myeloid leukemia, and in our institution, in my opinion, even older patients are eligible for some form of therapy or the other…very few patients, if any, today, are being sent to hospitals or palliative care without treatment.

So it’s very important to really consider all the available treatment options and if needed to seek consultation with an expert or academic center to get the most up-to-date treatments available for AML. 

Long-Term Effects Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients Should Know

Long-Term Effects Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients Should Know from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What do acute myeloid leukemia (AML) need to know about potential long-term effects of treatment? Dr. Catherine Lai from Penn Medicine shares insight. Learn about medical considerations for monitoring and an activation tip to help patients ensure their optimal health for the long term.

[ACT]IVATION TIP from Dr. Lai: Make sure that you’re reporting all your symptoms, however small that they may be at your appointment, so it can be discussed in asking if it might be related to a late effect, and then also asking if there is a survivorship clinic or a program that you can be a part of.”

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AML Clinical Trials Critical to Treatment Breakthroughs and Improvements

Transcript: 

Art:

Dr. Lai, I was diagnosed with lots more than 20 years after my transplant, and there are the long-term effects that AML patients should be aware of. What are some of those effects?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Yeah, so that’s an extremely important question and one that is often, often overlooked, unfortunately, even just from a time constraint perspective, but I would say it depends on the type of chemotherapy and the type of transplant, whether it was myeloablative you received radiation before your transplant, but, in general, I mean things to consider or just think about, it’s a big work, and so about your heart, your lungs, your thyroid, your kidneys, and also age-appropriate cancer screening as all things that need to be taken into consideration as late effects, if you are able to…if you’re able to find a cancer center with a survivorship clinic, I think that that’s an extremely valuable resource, because not only are they able to address these medical issues, but they’re also able to address the psychosocial component as well, and just overall general well-being.

And so I think just being aware of the fact that there are late effects and the activation tip being, is that to make sure that you’re reporting all your symptoms, however small that they may be at your appointment, so it can be discussed in asking if it might be related to a late effect, and then also asking if there is a survivorship clinic or a program that you can be a part of.  

What Are the ASH 2022 Takeaways for AML Patients?

What Are the ASH 2022 Takeaways for AML Patients? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What do acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients need to know about ASH 2022 updates? Dr. Catherine Lai from Penn Medicine discusses updates presented at the conference. Learn about combination treatments and a study that examined the use of chemotherapy before transplant. 

[ACT]IVATION TIP from Dr. Lai: “There are a lot of new, exciting therapies that are coming out, and that it’s really novel sequencing strategies and combinations that I think will be the future of AML.”

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Transcript: 

Art:

Dr. Lai, I had a transplant almost 30 years ago for relapsed AML and was not given intensive chemotherapy to get me into remission before the transplant. What are the takeaways from the ASH 2022 meeting? Is less more when treating AML?

Dr. Catherine Lai:

Sorry, that’s a great question, and what I just like to say that it’s so great that you are doing so well, so many years after, as you know, transplant is the original form of immunotherapy and is still the only potential cure for AML. And so with that being said, with at ASH what was seen was, I think a handful of things, so what I would say is that different combinations of drugs being used, so things looking at either at novel doubles and or triplets. Meaning combinations of two or three different drugs and how toxicity is affected, there are other also novel immunotherapies that are out there, not have been as groundbreaking as transplant, and I think that there is some way to harness the immune system to make treatment more effective, we just haven’t found that. Right, chemotherapy.

And then specifically, there was a large study, a large European study that was presented as the plenary session at ASH that talked about the role of chemotherapy before transplant. And what I would say, just speaking in general, is that the new immune system that a patient gets when they get a transplant takes…the new immune system, when a patient gets a transplant, it takes some time to take over, and that new immune system is able to fight off the leukemia, and so if a patient has a slow-growing leukemia, they might not need as much chemotherapy before the transplant, because the rate at which the leukemia will grow and won’t overburden the body before the new immune system takes over.

So I think that study was very provocative and gave some insight, but I still don’t think we have the complete right answer as to what chemotherapy should be used before transplant, I think that’s really tailored to each individual patient.

And then whether or not patients need chemotherapy after transplant also depends on disease burden and status, and taking into account measurable residual disease as well. So I would say the activation tip from the ASH 2022 meeting was that there are a lot of new, exciting therapies that are coming out, and that it’s really novel sequencing strategies and combinations that I think will be the future of AML.

What Is FLT3-Mutated Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

What Is FLT3-Mutated Acute Myeloid Leukemia? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Some acute myeloid leukemia (AML) may have an FLT3 mutation. Dr. Catherine Lai from Penn Medicine shares insight about the two types of FLT3 mutation, treatment options for FLT3-mutated AML, and progress in research

[ACT]IVATION TIP from Dr. Lai: Ask your oncologist, if your FLT3 mutation testing was done, ask which type of mutation they have, if it’s the ITD or TKD, if they are FLT3-positive and what the drug options are available for them.”

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BIPOC Patients Living with AML | Mortality Rate and Favorable Genetics

Transcript: 

Art: 

Dr. Lai, what is FLT3 mutated AML and what treatment options do patients with FLT3 AML have?

Dr. Catherine Lai: 

Yeah, so FLT3, FLT3 mutations occur in about 25 percent to 30 percent of patients. There are two different types of FLT3 mutations. There’s a FLT3, the ITD mutation and the FLT3, the TKD mutation. They just are there, different parts of the mutation on different parts of the cell, and so how I think about that is, if you think of a leukemia cell and each leukemias has a different color-coded flag, and so the FLT3 mutation I think of is just having a specific color coding, and while a FLT3 mutation in general does predict for a worse prognosis for patients, we do have targeted treatments. In a newly diagnosed setting, we have midostaurin (Rydapt), which is added to intensive chemotherapy for those fit enough to tolerate it. 

And in the relapsed refractory setting, we have a medication called gilteritinib (Xospata), which is given as a single agent, so a chemo pill, and that was compared to all types of chemotherapy, both intensive and low intensive chemotherapy, and that pill alone and the refractory and relapsed setting was better than either of the chemotherapies alone, so we’ve made a lot of progress for the FLT3-mutated patients to the majority of those patients end up going to transplant if possible, and so there are studies that are looking at FLT3 inhibitors in the post-transplant setting to also help improve long-term survival and overall survival. So the activation tip from that standpoint, that is to ask your oncologist, if your FLT3 mutation testing was done, ask which type of mutation they have, if it’s the ITD or TKD, if they are FLT3-positive and what the drug options are available for them. 

[ACT]IVATED AML Resource Guide

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How Can You Access Personalized Medicine for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer?

How Can You Access Personalized Medicine for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What is the right therapy for your non-small cell lung cancer? This animated video reviews treatment decision considerations, the importance of biomarker testing, and steps to engage in your non-small cell lung cancer care.

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Transcript:

No two people with lung cancer are the same, so finding the right treatment for each patient is critical.  

While receiving a non-small cell lung cancer diagnosis and choosing a therapy can be overwhelming, advancements in research are providing more options and more hope than ever. 

So, what should be considered when making a treatment decision? Physicians may consider factors such as: 

  • A patient’s age, overall health and any pre-existing conditions they have. 
  • As well as their type and stage of lung cancer. 
  • And their test results, including biomarker testing. 

Biomarker testing, also referred to as molecular testing, identifies key markers such as genes, proteins, or other molecules in a sample of tissue, blood, or other body fluid. Understanding the genetic makeup of the lung cancer helps your team better understand your disease and may influence treatment options – leading to more personalized care.  

For example, if the PD-L1 receptor is detected during biomarker testing, the patient may benefit from immunotherapy. Additionally, identification of an ALK mutation or an EGFR mutation may indicate that a patient will respond to a targeted therapy. 

So, how can you access personalized medicine? You can start by talking with your doctor about biomarker testing and ask if your cancer has been tested for all known biomarkers. Request to review the test results together and ask if there are any markers that affect your risk, prognosis, or treatment options.  

Before you choose a therapy, weigh the pros and cons of each option with your doctor. Ask about side effects and if any of your existing health conditions may impact your therapy choice. You should also discuss your treatment choices with a care partner, such as a friend or loved one – someone you trust.  

So, How Can You Take Action? 

  • Ask your doctor if you have had, or will receive, all essential testing, including biomarker testing. 
  • Seek a lung cancer specialist to guide your care. A second opinion consultation with a specialist can confirm your diagnosis and treatment approach. 
  • Partner with your doctor to determine a personalized treatment approach for YOUR lung cancer. 
  • Bring a friend or a loved one to your appointments to help you process and recall information. 
  • And finally, always speak up and ask questions. Remember, you have a voice in YOUR lung cancer care. 
  • To learn more about your non-small cell lung cancer and to access tools for self-advocacy, visit powerfulpatients.org/lungcancer.  

An Expert’s Perspective on Advanced Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Research

An Expert’s Perspective on Advanced Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Research from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What’s the latest in advanced non-melanoma skin cancer research? Dr. Sunandana Chandra shares an update on emerging treatments and provides reliable resources for research news.

Dr. Sunandana Chandra is a medical oncologist and Associate Professor of Medicine at Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. Learn more about Dr. Chandra.

Katherine:

Are there developments in advanced non-melanoma skin cancer treatment and research that patients should know about? 

Dr. Chandra:

So, you know, in the past, as a medical oncologist, we used to use a lot of chemotherapy.  

So, these are drugs that are notoriously hard to tolerate. Patients, understandably, are fearful of them and many of them don’t want them. They’ve seen friends and family go through them. And frankly, they have not been the most effective or efficacious in treating non-melanoma skin cancers, traditionally. But in the past, that’s all we had.

Now, we actually have much better therapies, specifically, the category of drugs called immunotherapy drugs that really boost a person’s own immune system to fight the cancer. These drugs are fairly new in the cancer world, and certainly new in the non-melanoma skin cancer world, and so, many of our colleagues in the community may not necessarily think of them when they’re considering patients.  

Perhaps, a lot of our patients haven’t even gotten a chance to hear about them. So, yes. There are new developments that I think are worth considering earlier and earlier in the course of a person’s treatment course. And so, I think an earlier referral to these multidisciplinary team members, including a medical oncologist, may not be a bad idea. 

Katherine:

How can patients stay up-to-date on developing research? What’s available for them? 

Dr. Chandra:

So, you know there are skin cancer patient advocacy websites that they can check out, skincancer.org. I always tell patients to be careful about what website they’re checking, because I certainly want them to go to a website that’s reputable, that’s vetted, that is something that we think has accurate information that’s evidence-based.  

And so, AIM at Melanoma has a non-melanoma skin cancer educational website. It’s called SCERF, which is Skin Cancer Education and Research Foundation, and you can find that through the aimatmelanoma.org website. You can look at skincancers.org, you can try with American Cancer Society, or you can even ask your clinical care team and see if they have any suggestions. There’s a lot of resources out there. I would just urge our patients to be careful in what source they’re looking at just make sure that they’re getting accurate, evidence-based information.

Advice for Accessing Financial Resources for Lung Cancer Care

Advice for Accessing Financial Resources for Lung Cancer Care from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Is there financial assistance available for lung cancer patients? Lung cancer expert Dr. Jyoti Patel shares support resources and tips to help reduce the financial burden of treatment.

Jyoti Patel, MD, is Medical Director of Thoracic Oncology and Assistant Director for Clinical Research at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. She is also Associate Vice-Chair for Clinical Research and a Professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Patel is a leader in thoracic oncology, focusing her efforts on the development and evaluation of novel molecular markers and therapeutics in patients battling non-small cell lung cancer. Learn more about Dr. Patel.

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Transcript:

Katherine:

Dr. Patel, we’d be remiss if we didn’t bring up financial concerns.  

Treatment and regular appointments can become quite expensive. So, understanding that everyone’s situation is different, where can patients turn to if they need resources for financial support?  

Dr. Patel:

When your team first talks to you about therapies, it’s important that they have transparency about what something may cost or the risks that you may incur by starting treatment. However, most of us have access to wonderful financial teams and financial counselors that can help you manage this.  

Many of our industry partners and friends are able to have assistance programs to provide oral drugs at discounted rates or to work, again, with organizations in which you may be able to have reduced rates for many of your drugs. Most of the infusional drugs, again, should be covered by insurance. But outside of drug costs, there are a lot of other costs.  

So, parking every time you come for a doctor’s appointment. Time off from work. Time that you’re hiring a babysitter to take care of your children when you’re at treatment. All of those add up. And so, again, perhaps talking to the social worker at your cancer center or talking to the financial counselor, there are often local programs that can help ease some of those burdens. 

Tips for Managing Lung Cancer Anxiety and Worry

Tips for Managing Lung Cancer Anxiety and Worry from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Lung cancer expert Dr. Jyoti Patel shares support resources to help ease anxiety and explains how multidisciplinary care teams, including palliative care, can support patients and family members.

Jyoti Patel, MD, is Medical Director of Thoracic Oncology and Assistant Director for Clinical Research at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. She is also Associate Vice-Chair for Clinical Research and a Professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Patel is a leader in thoracic oncology, focusing her efforts on the development and evaluation of novel molecular markers and therapeutics in patients battling non-small cell lung cancer. Learn more about Dr. Patel.

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Transcript:

Katherine:

Managing the worry associated with a diagnosis or concerns about progression can lead to anxiety and fear in some patients. So, why is it important for patients to share how they’re feeling with their healthcare team? And who all is in the healthcare team who would be able to help a patient?  

Dr. Patel:

So, the anxiety of cancer therapies, of CT scans, of tumor assessments, can be overpowering. And then the longer-term anxieties. Who’s going to care for me, who’s going to care for my family, am I doing the things that are important to me, are ones that weigh heavily on all of us.  

So, certainly, again, carrying these anxieties over a long time have adverse impacts. So, people who are more anxious may not sleep as well. They may lose weight. They may not be as robust. And so, all of those things weigh into our ability to give more treatment. So, we want people to be psychologically well. We have, generally now in our healthcare teams, a number of people who are there to help.  

And so, we have nurse navigators. Most cancer centers have a number of psychologists and psychiatrists that work with our teams. But more than that, even things like nutritionists and social workers make a significant impact. And then I’m surely lucky to work with a world-class palliative care team.  

So, these are doctors that really focus on symptoms of cancer, the toxicities of treatment. And we work together to ensure the best outcome for our patients.  

Advice for Managing Lung Cancer Symptoms and Treatment Side Effects

Advice for Managing Lung Cancer Symptoms and Treatment Side Effects from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Lung cancer expert Dr. Jyoti Patel explains common symptoms and treatment side effects, and discusses how treatment approaches may vary depending on treatment goals for each patient.

Jyoti Patel, MD, is Medical Director of Thoracic Oncology and Assistant Director for Clinical Research at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. She is also Associate Vice-Chair for Clinical Research and a Professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Patel is a leader in thoracic oncology, focusing her efforts on the development and evaluation of novel molecular markers and therapeutics in patients battling non-small cell lung cancer. Learn more about Dr. Patel.

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Transcript:

Katherine:

Symptoms and side effects can sometimes be a burden to patients undergoing treatment. What are the most common issues that patients face? 

Dr. Patel:

So, common symptoms from treatment can include fatigue, lack of appetite, disinterest in the things that made you really excited before. Infrequently now we have severe nausea, because we have such good antinausea medications.  

Sometimes we’ll have problems with blood counts or risks of infection. All of these vary by the treatment that’s rendered. And so, often it may be that you’re on a targeted therapy.  

Some targeted therapies, for example, can cause swelling in your legs. Immunotherapies are generally well-tolerated but can cause significant side effects in a small minority of people that could include inflammation in the gut, for example.  

So, everything is sort of tailored, I would say. Most frequently, I hear about the fatigue, and then the ongoing stressors of living with cancer. So, the financial toxicity certainly. These drugs are expensive. But not only that, often people have changed the way they work. Their family members have changed how they work to support their loved one. So, bringing people to appointments.  

There’s a lot on someone’s plate. And that can contribute to fatigue and even some anxiety.  

Katherine:

Yeah. What strategies are in place to manage symptoms and side effects? 

Dr. Patel:

So, having a patient who’s knowledgeable about potential side effects and a good advocate for themselves is probably the best way to manage therapy. So, ongoing dialogue with your clinical team, with your nurse, with your physician, are absolutely important. But most of us work with teams of healthcare workers. And so, when I think about our clinic, we have financial counselors, we have social workers, we have dieticians and nutritionists, we work with physical therapists. And importantly, we work with a palliative care team that helps us, again, manage some of the toxicities of therapy.  

We think that they provide a longitudinal assessment of patients and remember what’s most important to a patient over time. Whereas often in the moment there’s this, we want to make the tumor shrink. We think about what we can do immediately. It’s often really helpful to have another team that can provide support over the patient’s journey to help us, again, prioritize what they wanted to do the most.  

Katherine:

Mm-hmm. Dr. Patel, why do you think it’s necessary for patients to tell their doctor about any issues they may be having? Even the little ones.  

Dr. Patel:

I think most of us want to be good patients. And so, we minimize things because we think that, okay, we’re using precious time to talk about things that may seem minor. But, again, all of these add up.  

Even minor symptoms, particularly in the era of immunotherapy, can turn out to be big problems. So, as I say now to my patients particularly on immunotherapy, if something seems a little bit off and you can’t put your finger on it, I just need to know so I can at least do the appropriate workup to make sure that we’re not missing anything. Because symptoms of underlying problems can be very misleading.  

Moreover, I think the cumulative burden of cancer. So, again, we talked a little bit about the financial toxicity, the emotional cost, the time involved in treatment, all of that adds up. And you never want to get it to a breaking point. We want to manage it early on, so we can, again, make decisions together and keep wellness and the quality of survival at the forefront.  

Personalized Medicine | Making Lung Cancer Treatment Decisions

Personalized Medicine | Making Lung Cancer Treatment Decisions from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Lung cancer expert Dr. Jyoti Patel explains how biomarker testing is used to guide treatment decisions and personalize care plans for patients.

Jyoti Patel, MD, is Medical Director of Thoracic Oncology and Assistant Director for Clinical Research at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. She is also Associate Vice-Chair for Clinical Research and a Professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Patel is a leader in thoracic oncology, focusing her efforts on the development and evaluation of novel molecular markers and therapeutics in patients battling non-small cell lung cancer. Learn more about Dr. Patel.

See More from Thrive Lung Cancer

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Transcript:

Katherine:

Since no two people with lung cancer are the same, how do you decide which treatment is best for each patient? 

Dr. Patel:

So, the process of evaluating a patient can actually take a little bit of time. So, we first meet a patient, and they may have suspicious findings. We want to understand the full stage of their cancer. And so, in 2022, that’s doing an MRI of the brain, a CT of the chest and abdomen, and often times a pet scan to look for any evidence of distant disease.  

So, once we have radiographic modeling of where we think the tumor is, sometimes we need to do a repeat biopsy to confirm whether or not lymph nodes are involved or the cancer has spread. After we do the biopsy and say that it’s non-small cell lung cancer or small cell lung cancer, we make decisions about looking for genetic markers.  

And so, we’ll often take the tumor tissue and stain for things like PD-L1, which is a marker of response to immunotherapies.  

Very importantly, with all these new targeted therapies, we want to understand the genetic makeup of cancer. So, we want to look for things like EGFR mutations or ALK translocations which are more effectively treated with targeted therapies than chemotherapy or immunotherapy.  

So, those are the tumor characteristics. But, again, I’ve said before, a tumor exists in a person.  

And so, you need to understand what’s important to the person, what do they prioritize, what’s their health like, what, again, are the preferences, are there other comorbidities that could perhaps make some treatments more difficult? Many people, for example, have autoimmune disease. And so, that can be something that’s relatively minor, like some psoriasis that is well-controlled versus perhaps lupus which can cause organ failure.  

Often with psoriasis there are ways that we can give immunotherapy safely. Sometimes other autoimmune diseases would put patients at very high risk with immunotherapies. And so, again, understanding the overall health, understanding other competing causes of toxicity, are absolutely important as you make decisions together.  

Katherine:

Yeah. It seems like we’re getting closer to personalized medicine. For you, how would you define that term? 

Dr. Patel:

Personalized medicine comes in two forms. So, one is the biologics of the tumor itself. So, what do I understand about the genetic markers, the likelihood of response to the available therapies. The other piece, again, is personalizing it to the person that has the cancer.  

And so, again, what are the preferences? What are the risks they’re willing to take? What are their goals? What are the preferences? 

Emerging Therapies | Hope for the Future of Lung Cancer Care

Emerging Therapies | Hope for the Future of Lung Cancer Care from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Lung cancer expert Dr. Jyoti Patel provides updates about emerging research and shares her impressions about the future of lung cancer care.

Jyoti Patel, MD, is Medical Director of Thoracic Oncology and Assistant Director for Clinical Research at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. She is also Associate Vice-Chair for Clinical Research and a Professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Patel is a leader in thoracic oncology, focusing her efforts on the development and evaluation of novel molecular markers and therapeutics in patients battling non-small cell lung cancer. Learn more about Dr. Patel.

See More from Thrive Lung Cancer

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Transcript:

Katherine:

I’d like to talk about emerging treatments. Are there any therapies in development that patients should know about that you’re excited about? 

Dr. Patel:

There are a number of things that are happening right now in the landscape that is really, again, giving us great optimism about how to move forward. So, areas of active research really concentrate on identification of new targets so that we have identified oncogenes that we’re trying to treat effectively. So, those are things like EGFR Exon 20 mutations or HER2 mutations, as well as some of these new fusions.  

Another area of rapidly growing research is that most patients who have targeted therapies will eventually develop resistance. And so, understanding how to mitigate resistance or how to overcome resistance is important. And we often talk about the different drugs in development as first-, second-, and third-generation drugs in the EGFR space, which accounts for about 15 percent of lung cancers in the United States. We’re looking at fourth-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors. They’re certainly very exciting.  

The other piece, I think, of research that is moving and that we are looking forward to understanding why some patients have really robust responses to immunotherapies and others don’t. Or how people become immune to the effects of immunotherapy. And so, understanding the tumor microenvironment, seeing if there are other proteins that we can co-stimulate to cause these robust and durable responses to immunotherapy is an area that we’re working on.  

Katherine:

Before we close, I’d like to ask, are you hopeful about the potential for people with lung cancer to thrive? 

Dr. Patel:

Absolutely. The future is bright after years of working and really developing this great foundational science.  

We are seeing the transformation of cancer care in a way that is faster than I could’ve ever imagined at the beginning of my career. We’re bringing scientific insights to the bedside. And bringing it to the bedside is impacting how patients live with their cancer and thrive with their cancer. They’re living longer and with fewer toxicities and side effects than I ever imagined.  

I’m optimistic about the promise of early detection through blood tests one day, through screening with CT scans to find early-staged disease in which the cancer is the most curable. And then for patients with more extensive disease, to really understand how we can sequence therapies or deescalate therapies when patients have minimal burden of disease, again, to decrease the toxicities 

Tips for Managing Your Oral Lung Cancer Treatment

Tips for Managing Your Oral Lung Cancer Treatment from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What happens if you miss a dose of your oral therapy? Lung cancer expert Dr. Jyoti Patel shares advice for managing oral lung cancer treatment for optimal patient care.

Jyoti Patel, MD, is Medical Director of Thoracic Oncology and Assistant Director for Clinical Research at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. She is also Associate Vice-Chair for Clinical Research and a Professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Patel is a leader in thoracic oncology, focusing her efforts on the development and evaluation of novel molecular markers and therapeutics in patients battling non-small cell lung cancer. Learn more about Dr. Patel.

See More from Thrive Lung Cancer

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Understanding Lung Cancer Treatment Goals

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Transcript:

Katherine:

Are some of the targeted therapies taken orally? And if so, are patients in charge of administering them, their own therapies?  

Dr. Patel:

Many of the targeted therapies that are most effective are taken orally. And so, patients take them at home. Often, they’ll have once-daily dosing or twice-daily dosing. The number of pills often depends on the formulation of the drug. So, patients are responsible, I guess, for taking them. That comes with a lot. So, we need to think about, how do we help with adherence? How do we manage toxicity? How are the drugs affected by whether you eat or take the drug on an empty stomach? There are a lot of nuances there.  

Generally, we like to give a lot of information to our patients. So, often, patients will meet with a pharmacist when they’re first prescribed the medication. They’ll meet with our nurses to go over how to take those and how to manage any side effects if they have them or what to do if there are any adverse reactions.  

Katherine:

Mm-hmm. Well, what would happen if a patient forgets to take one of their medications? Does that impact its effectiveness? And then should they get in touch with their healthcare team to let them know? 

Dr. Patel:

So, generally, we like patients to take the medication almost at the same time every day. We sort of think about half-life. So, we want to make sure that that serum level stays appropriate. If someone misses a dose – which happens – and, again the best-case scenario is that people are on these pills for years, right? For several years. So, of course, you’re going to miss a dose.  If that happens, we generally tell people never to double up.  

To let your team know. Often you can just skip that dose and take it in the evening or the next day.