The Thoracic Oncology Research Program is a multidisciplinary program investigating lung cancer through basic, translational, and clinical research. A wide variety of projects are being led by our thoracic surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists, as well as basic scientists, population scientists, pulmonologists, and radiologists.
An important strategy in the program is the study of how individual genes affect oncogenesis and tumor progress. In the laboratory, some investigators are studying mouse models to determine the role of stem cells in the development of cancer in humans and in the development of resistance to treatment.
Clinically, researchers are trying to figure out how use unique genetic mutations in an individual patient to personalize treatment and are looking at subgroups of patients to see how they respond to treatment.
A number of studies are also ongoing utilizing a large tissue bank and database of patients treated for lung cancer at Duke University since 1995. For example, some researchers are studying epidemiological factors related to lung cancer -- why certain patient groups respond to treatment better than others.
In addition, other researchers are examining the role of age, gender, minimally invasive surgery, and other patient-specific factors in outcomes, including quality of life.
The Thoracic Oncology Research Program offers unique Duke investigator-initiated trials, national and international cooperative group trials, and cutting-edge trials that evaluate the newest therapies available anywhere.
Lung cancer clinical research at Duke has focused on biomarker discovery and development -- the use of molecular signatures to improve the assessment of prognosis and the development of specific new therapies. The formation of the program has allowed for the optimal collaboration of the best basic science underway on the Duke campus with ongoing clinical and translational lung cancer research programs.
Finally, as a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) -- an alliance of 21 of the world’s leading cancer centers -- Duke is at the forefront of outcomes research.
The lung cancer researchers at Duke have assisted in developing the most comprehensive lung cancer database in the world: the NCCN Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Outcomes Database. This project, the best example of Comparative Effectiveness Research in lung cancer to date, provides the process for the study of all aspects of lung cancer outcomes, analyzing every element lung cancer management and integrating outcomes into the development of guidelines for optimal care.