PET imaging agent IDs lung cancer mutation, helps match patients with drug therapy

Individuals dealing with a diagnosis of lung cancer want answers more than “wait and see.” Recent research shows a new PET scan-compatible imaging agent will be able to detect a specific mutation in nonsmall cell lung cancer.

“Some people wonder, ‘Can’t you just prescribe the drug and wait to see if the tumor shrinks? If it shrinks, then you know it’s working,’” said senior Sanjiv Gambhir, MD, PhD, professor and chair of radiology at Stanford.

But if a medication is not able to control the cancer, tumors will grow and become more complex.

“In the time you waited to see if the tumors shrank, those tumors continued to evolve, and that makes it more difficult to treat with the next round of therapy,” Gambhir said, in an interview with Stanford Medicine.

Published March 7 in Science Translation Medicine, a study, led by Xilin Sun, MD, an associate professor of radiology at Harbin Medical University in China, examined if the tracer F-MPG could find specific protein mutations in lung cancer.

Researchers used the tracer in PET scans on 75 study participants. Of those whose tumors were identified with trace, more than 80 percent responded positively from the targeted drug.