Pfizer effort urges lung cancer patients to get gene tests

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Pfizer effort urges lung cancer patients to get gene tests
Pfizer effort urges lung cancer patients to get gene tests
Pfizer Oncology has recruited Desperate Housewives and West Wing star Kathryn Joosten to feature in a national education campaign titled Lung Cancer Profiles, which aims to reduce stigma and plug molecular testing of the disease.

The push comes as Pfizer deepens its investment in narrowly-targeted cancer treatments whose success will require broad adoption of genetic testing.

Two-time Emmy winner Joosten's ten-year battle with lung cancer features on, alongside the stories of several other lung cancer survivors, all older women. Joosten, 71, was first diagnosed with NSCLC in 2001. She quit smoking after 45 years, underwent surgery to remove a stage I tumor and showed no signs of cancer until 2009, when doctors found a stage III tumor.

Through testing, she learned that her cancer was EGFR-negative and KRAS-positive, which, she says, “helped my doctors find the right trial for my type of lung cancer.” Joosten has been taking an investigational drug for several months as part of the trial, and reports that “my most recent scan shows some nodules have shrunk, some are stable, and nothing has grown.”

“Although getting my tumor tested required perseverance, it was important to me,” she says on the site, “and I am proud to say that I took an active role in my own health.”

Pfizer's Xalkori (crizotinib) won FDA approval in August for treatment of some patients with late-non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have a genetic mutation which can fuel the growth of cancerous cells. The agency simultaneously approved a test for the mutated gene, known as an abnormal anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene, from Abbott Molecular Diagnostics. Around one out of every seven NSCLC patients have the gene. Pfizer and Qiagen are also working on a drug-companion diagnostic combo for Pfizer's dacomitinib investigational drug for NSCLC. The culprit for those products is KRAS gene mutations.  

Pfizer is collaborating with a host of lung cancer patient advocacy orgs on the effort, including the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, Lung Cancer Alliance, Lung Cancer Foundation of America, LUNGevity, the National Lung Cancer Partnership and Uniting Against Lung Cancer.
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