Focusing on You: Lung Cancer Cases Rise in Non-Smoking Younger Women

2 min read  |  November 01, 2022  | 
Disponible en Español |

Sylvester Oncologist Says Biomarker Testing Crucial for Every Patient

Dr. Estelamari Rodriguez is a thoracic oncologist at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. For more information about treatments and services for lung cancer at Sylvester, click here


When Lori Weinstock was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, she was in complete shock.

“It was something I didn’t know anything about. It never was on my radar. I’m not a smoker, and I got lung cancer,” Lori says.

Estelamari Rodriguez, M.D., M.P.H., a thoracic oncologist and Associate Director of Community Outreach for Thoracic Oncology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, says they’re seeing an alarming rise in the number of non-smokers diagnosed with lung cancer.

About 10% to 20% of patients who get diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.

Dr. Estelamari Rodriguez

“We’re seeing a rapidly growing group of younger patients that are being diagnosed with lung cancer, and some of these lung cancers are very specific; they have genetic mutations that drive those changes,” says Dr. Rodriguez.

Sylvester’s team approach includes comprehensive biomarker testing of every patient’s tumor to determine if there’s a mutation that will respond to targeted therapy.

“Right now, there’s about ten of them that have FDA-approved indication treatments that work better than chemotherapy. These are specific treatments that target those genetic drivers, and if you don’t look for this test, you will never find out,” Dr. Rodriguez says.

Dr. Rodriguez tested Lori’s tumor, revealing a genetic mutation that could be treated with targeted therapy.

“I said, ‘Good news. We have a treatment. We know why you’re having lung cancer,’” says Dr. Rodriguez.

Lori takes one pill a day, and her tumors have shrunk. Now she’s spending time with her family and raising funds for lung cancer research. She’s thankful to Dr. Rodriguez and the entire Sylvester team.

“Their compassion, their care. Sylvester has been amazing. I’m very grateful,” says Lori.

Video transcript compiled by Janna Ross for ‘Focusing on You: Innovations in Modern Medicine,’ a series of healthcare-related stories airing regularly on WPLG Local 10.  For more stories like this one, visit UHealth’s YouTube channel.

Tags: biomarker testing, Dr. Estelamari Rodriguez, focusing on you, genetic mutation, genetic mutations, lung cancer, precision oncology, thoracic oncologist

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