Lung Cancer - Stage IV: Virginia Filipan

Virginia Filipan was only 58 years old when she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

After losing her two sisters, brother and husband to cancer, she thought the logical thing would be to start planning her last few months. However, Virginia met Robert Nagourney, MD, medical director at Rational Therapeutics, and he had a different plan.

It all started with a lingering cough and a bad case of bronchitis just after Christmas 2005. When the prescribed antibiotics were making Virginia worse, her physician ordered a chest X-ray. He saw something suspicious; a subsequent PET scan confirmed his fear, Virginia had lung cancer that spread to her bones. 

Like many others diagnosed with lung cancer, Virginia was not a smoker. She worked in a night club and believes exposure to secondhand smoke may have been the cause.

As Virginia began to research her treatment options she kept hearing about Dr. Robert Nagourney. Dr. Nagourney and his staff at Rational Therapeutics use functional profiling to determine which drug or combination of drugs will most effectively treat a patient’s specific cancer. By exposing each patient’s cancer cells to different chemotherapies, the "assay" tailors treatment to his/her unique profile of sensitivity and resistance, therefore improving outcomes.

“We need to be thinking outside the box to get good, meaningful advances,” says Dr. Nagourney. “If you administer the right medication to the right patient, you get a good response.”

From the results of her EVA-PCD functional profiling assay, Dr. Nagourney prescribed a once-a-day chemotherapy drug that Virginia has been on ever since. "Today, everyone tells me I’m a walking miracle,” she said.  

How We Test Your Cancer Infographic

Currently, hundreds of drugs, drug combinations and targeted agents are used to treat cancer patients. With so many choices, how does your oncologist decide which ones are right for you?