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Ask an Oncology Expert with Dr. Mei Tang

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Laura Zabriskie

May 13, 2021
Medical oncologist and hematologist Dr. Mei Tang brings years of extensive oncology research to her patients at GBMC’s Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute. In such an evolving field, she finds it critical to explore the very latest in targeted oral therapies, immunotherapy, and molecular and genetic testing. Through personalized medicine, Dr. Tang is seeing patients living longer, healthier lives than ever before. In her interactive conversation with Mary Beth Marsden, Dr. Tang discussed lung cancer diagnosis, described the different types of lung cancer, and explained GBMC’s clinical trials program.

“Lung cancer is one of the main cancers that is still a life-threatening condition,” she said. While many associate lung cancer with smoking, nonsmokers can also develop the disease. Unfortunately, it has few specific symptoms, which makes imaging and diagnostic testing critical to diagnosis. Dr. Tang advised anyone who has experienced a chronic cough for more than two weeks to see their doctor because this can be a major symptom. “Lung cancer can be sneaky,” she explained, “many patients don’t know they have it until it’s really affecting their breathing.”

There are two main types of lung cancer – small cell and non-small cell. Non-small cell cancer is much more common, occurring in approximately 75% of lung cancer patients. Advanced molecular testing has allowed medical researchers to identify nine different subgroups of non-small cell cancer. Oncologists examine the genetic makeup of each patient’s cancer to determine its subgroup and use that knowledge to create an individual, targeted treatment plan.

For some patients, this treatment plan may include participation in a clinical trial. GBMC is very active in medical research and is currently participating in multiple studies focused on lung cancer. These trials target patients in various stages of the disease as well as post-surgery patients. “Only by doing clinical trials can we advance treatment methods for our patients,” Dr. Tang expressed.

The discussion ended with Dr. Tang answering viewer questions that were submitted beforehand and during the conversation. She covered topics such as the side effects of specific treatments as well as staging and recurrence.
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