For some patients, lung cancer is not blamed on smoking, but a gene mutation called EGFR. For that, scientists at Stanford are trying something new, a single pill, called Tarceva, taken once a day, to shrink cancer tumors, without radiation or chemotherapy.
"When we can find these particular gene mutations that lead us to the different pill, medications that leads to a lot of excitement and hope again because it changes, adds a whole new level of drugs and options that we'll be able to treat with," says Dr. Heather Wakalee, a thoracic oncologist.
"I've been taking Tarceva since December 7th and my tumor was down 50% in beginning of February, so after two months it was down 50%," says cancer patient Molly Golbon.
Molly's lung cancer had moved to her hip, shoulder, and brain, but now doctors say it is almost undetectable.
The pill is not a cure, since the drugs don't work forever. But it does give Molly and other patients more time, and less pain.
Currently, there are more than a dozen lung cancer trials like this going on at Stanford.
For more information, go to lungcancer.org.