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Laura Petrillo, M.D.

headshot of Laura Petrillo, M.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital
Helping Patients with Lung Cancer Mutations Understand Treatment
Clinical Patient Care Research Grant
Susan Marie Romano/American Lung Association Clinical Patient Care Grant

Over the past decade, a new class of cancer drugs called targeted therapy, which acts on mutations in cancer-causing genes, has revolutionized lung cancer treatment. Patients who receive this highly specific therapy live longer than patients who are treated with chemotherapy. However, targeted therapy eventually cancer grows resistant to targeted therapy to slow cancer growth, leading to incurable disease. Having a realistic understanding about what to expect from cancer treatment helps patients plan for the future. In this study, we will explore patients' understanding of what testing positive for a lung cancer mutation means for their life expectancy and how doctors convey that information to patients. We will then develop an intervention to help patients achieve an accurate understanding of the goal of targeted therapy for lung cancer, in order to help them prepare for the future.

Update: To date, we have found that most adults with cancer desire detailed information about their diagnosis and treatment, yet they infrequently discuss prognosis with their oncologists and often misperceive that targeted therapy is a cure. In the next phase of our study, we will develop an intervention to support adults with lung cancer to understand the goal of targeted therapy and prepare for the future.

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