Jill Feldman, Ivy Elkins, and Juanita Segura can tell you what it's like to face a devastating diagnosis: lung cancer. They were all shocked to receive the news, but have learned to manage the disease as a chronic, long-term condition. Through their work with Lung Cancer Foundation of American (LCFA), they are now advocates for research funding which is shockingly less that most other major cancers. Lung cancer has the highest mortality rate of all cancers, including breast, prostate and colon cancer combined.
The good news is that treatment options for lung cancer patients are rapidly improving. LCFA is laser-focused on supporting new research to discover better diagnosis and treatment for lung cancer patients. Some of the newest developments include:
- Liquid biopsies: a simple blood test to diagnose lung cancer and find biomarkers that could lead to better treatments.
- Immunotherapy: drugs that help a patient’s own immune system fight cancer without damaging healthy cells.
- Targeted therapies: drugs developed for specific biomarkers found in some tumors that slow the cancer's growth.
Unfortunately, lung cancer rates are rising in a surprising population: young women who have never been smokers. They make up 20% of new lung cancer diagnoses, including Jill, Ivy and Juanita who all live in Chicago.
Jill had a family history of lung cancer and was diagnosed in 2009 with Stage 1 lung cancer.
Ivy was diagnosed in 2013 after being plagued by pain in her elbow and neck.
Juanita was diagnosed in 2014 when she was in the process of opening her own CrossFit studio when she was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Thankfully, there's new hope in the face of a lung cancer diagnosis. To help recently-diagnosed patients, LCFA is producing a video podcast series called Hope With Answers. The videos pair lung cancer patient advocates with top lung cancer doctors and researchers to chat about topics and questions that people may not think of while they are in the doctor's office.
LCFA also partners with the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer to fund two-year research grants that will hopefully lead to new treatments. The most recent set of grants were awarded to two young women researchers:
- Dr. Haiying Cheng's work focuses on the spread of lung cancer to other parts of body, especially the brain.
- Dr. Kellie Smith will focus on how patients without a history of tobacco exposure will respond to drugs that use the person's own immune system to fight the disease.
Lung Cancer Foundation of America is leading the fight against lung cancer with hope, research, and information for lung cancer patients. Thanks to LCFA's work and others, lung cancer can now- in some cases- be managed as a chronic condition.