Matilde Quintana will never forget the day she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
“My regular doctor told me, ‘Matilde, you’re not going to be alive,’ (and) this was in May, ‘You’re not going to be alive in January,’” she says.
Nearly five years later, Matilde is beating the odds.
Today there are new and better treatment options for patients with lung cancer, says Sylvester oncologist Dr. Estelamari Rodriguez.
“There’s been nine new drugs approved for lung cancer since March 2020. And these are treatments that were never available before for patients,” Dr. Rodriguez says.
She goes on to say more personalized, targeted therapies are changing the way doctors treat each patient.
“So, we’re now able to define lung cancer; before we thought all the lung cancers look the same,” says Dr. Rodriguez. “We understand that there are different mutations, and we can select patients that will respond based on those markers for those mutations.”
A new class of immunotherapy drugs is allowing patients like Matilde to respond longer than they did with chemotherapy alone.
“What we’re trying to do is activate the patient’s own immune system to fight the cancer,” Dr. Rodriguez says. “There are less side effects and it’s easier to tolerate.”
Matilde continues her treatment at Sylvester combining chemotherapy and immunotherapy, which she might no longer need.
“These are decisions that we never had to make with patients with lung cancer, that we have patients that are doing so well,” says Dr. Rodriguez.
FOCUSING ON YOU
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