Lung cancer is now the leading cancer killer... But finding the right treatment for each patient is an exact science.
A new test may give more patients hope.
When Patricia Van Dusen was getting ready for hip surgery, she had no idea anything else was wrong. She says, "They found that I had a spot in my right lung and everyone said well we're gonna take care of this first before you have the other surgery."
Although she had never smoked, she had early stage lung cancer and had surgery to remove the lesion. Patricia says, "I've been under observation for almost two years."
Doctors know about one-third of their patients will die because their lung cancer returns, but they have no way to know which ones.
Now, a new kind of test may tell them."you can look at genes and patterns of genes in patients to actually predict what is going to happen to that patient."
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have developed the first-ever genomic test to help doctors decide who needs aggressive treatment.
It's called the lung metagene predictor and is up to 85-percent accurate.
Doctor Potti says, "We arrive at these sets of patterns of genes by looking at the entire human genome, more than 30-thousand genes."
By analyzing the molecular make-up of each patient's tumor, the test can predict the individual's chance of relapse.
Doctor Potti says, "If a particular patient's pattern looked very similar to that, then that particular patient would be at very high risk for recurrence."
Patricia would have welcomed such a test when she had surgery. She says, "It'd be wonderful if you could know that, and, and uh be sure."