Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
originates from endothelial cells, the cells that line the inside of the lungs.
These cells are adenoid cells with mobile little hair-like structures that
behave like an automatic mini-mop, constantly cleaning the lungs. If these same
cells have been exposed to constant injuries, be it smoking, contamination or
infections, they may have changed into squamous, more resilient cells. Those
who have given up smoking may have noticed that they cough more as their cells
go back into their original adenoid form.
These NSCLC tumours are more diverse than
previously thought. To date we have identified three major genetic anomalies
that drive the growth of the cancer and can be controlled for long periods of
time using tablet targeted treatments. These called “driving mutations” are
more common in patients that have never smoked, and are rare cancers. Targeted
treatments knock out the “driver mutation” with a high level of effectiveness,
achieving disease control in most patients, at the expense of some toxicity.
Soon, we hope to open a national study led by
Clatterbridge clinicians working closely with the Liverpool Heart and Chest
surgeons, where we will identify patients that have this lung cancers at a
stage when they can be cured with surgery, give them a very potent inhibitor,
shrink the cancers and take them out afterwards, hoping that we may increase
the cure rates of surgery.