Darryl Sleep, Amgen’s chief medical officer, and Helmy Eltoukhy, CEO of Guardant Health.
Darryl Sleep, Amgen’s chief medical officer, and Helmy Eltoukhy, CEO of Guardant Health.

Discussing the Pivotal Role Biomarker Testing Plays in Treatment of Lung Cancer Patients

Watch a video featuring Darryl Sleep, Amgen’s chief medical officer, and Helmy Eltoukhy, CEO of Guardant Health.

Worldwide, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death,1 and in the U.S., more than 235,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year.2 Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a devastating disease that accounts for 84% of all lung cancer diagnoses.2

Fortunately, with advances in science, biomarker testing is revolutionizing the treatment of lung cancer for some patients. Also called molecular testing or genetic testing, it helps physicians better understand a patient’s specific tumor and what makes each patient’s cancer unique, potentially leading to targeted therapies and personalized approaches to treatment. However, biomarker testing rates vary among patients with NSCLC and have been shown to be as low as 22% in a study that evaluated the rate of testing of all four of the guideline recommended biomarkers between 2017 and 2019 among five U.S. community oncology practices.3

Biomarker testing allows for the detection of oncogenes – genes that are normally involved in cell growth but have mutated to contribute to the development of cancer. Approximately 50% of patients with NSCLC have oncogene mutations,4 yet many patients are not tested despite professional clinical guidelines recommending biomarker testing for all patients with advanced NSCLC.5

Amgen’s chief medical officer, Darryl Sleep, and Helmy Eltoukhy, CEO of Guardant Health, sat down for a virtual conversation about the importance of comprehensive biomarker testing for patients with NSCLC, including emerging biomarkers like KRAS G12C, and how biomarker testing can help inform personalized treatment decisions.


“The real importance of doing biomarker testing is that each patient may have a specific mutation or a specific signature of their cancer,” commented Sleep. “We believe that it's critically important that all patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer have access to comprehensive biomarker testing at diagnosis. Biomarker testing can be performed on a blood- or tissue-based sample, the results of which will help guide treatment decisions for patients.”

Every Patient’s Cancer is Unique

With the advent of new targeted therapies, there are more opportunities than ever before to use comprehensive biomarker testing to help guide personalized treatment options with the aim of improving outcomes for patients with NSCLC.

“I didn’t learn about biomarkers and mutations and oncogenes and drivers until I started becoming involved in the lung cancer advocacy and the lung cancer community,” said Terri Conneran, a lung cancer patient advocate and founder of the advocacy group KRAS Kickers. “Speaking to the other patients, and listening to the doctors, and becoming informed about my disease was empowering. It told me what it is I needed to know, and it made me want to find other people that had something similar, some sort of diagnosis that is the same as mine.”

Visit our KRAS G12C Information Center to learn more about NSCLC and biomarker testing, and find out more about Amgen’s global diagnostic collaborations to expand biomarker testing for patients with NSCLC here.


  1. World Health Organization. Cancer Key Facts. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer. Accessed 4/1/2021.
  2. ASCO Cancer.net. Lung Cancer - Non-Small Cell: Statistics. Available at: https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/lung-cancer-non-small-cell/statistics. Accessed 4/1/2021.
  3. Gierman HJ, et al. J Clin Oncol. 2019;15:_Suppl. Abstract:1585.
  4. Pakkala S, et al. JCI Insight. 2018;3:e120858.
  5. Pennell NA, et al. Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2019;39:531-542

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