Personalized Medicine Is Changing Lives for Lung Cancer Patients

By Lynn Dressler, DrPH
Director, Mission Health Personalized Medicine Program

Personalized medicine evaluates the mutations found in an individual cancer patient’s tumor to predict which cancer treatments have the best chance of working for that patient. Testing for a patient’s response to anticancer drugs before they get the drug provides key information to enhance the patient’s care. Personalized medicine testing strives to replace the trial-and-error approach to the management of cancer with an approach that is scientifically based and individually guided.

Targeted Therapy

For cancer patients, tests are performed on the patient’s individual tumor tissue to find mutations that make the tumor grow. The mutations are then matched to a drug that specifically targets cells with those mutations. This is called targeted therapy. By using targeted therapy, patients can receive the most effective drug to target (and hopefully kill) the tumor cells that carry the mutation. This approach should lead to less side effects (normal cells are left unharmed) and more effective management for each individual cancer patient.

Options for Lung Cancer Patients

Personalized medicine testing has dramatically changed the care for lung cancer patients with advanced disease. In just the last five years, numerous drugs are now available for patients whose tumors have certain mutations. Many advanced stage lung cancer patients are living longer and have options for treatment that just weren’t available before. 

Partnering with the Thoracic Cancer Program

Brief History – Mission Personalized Medicine Program and Lung Cancer 


Lynn Dressler, DrPH, is the Director of Personalized Medicine and Pharmacogenomics at Mission Health. 

To learn more about Mission Health’s Personalized Medicine Program, call (828) 213-1044 or visit mission-health.org/personalizedmedicine [1].