“The advancements in CT scans and the discoveries of
specific mutations for targeted therapies have revolutionized the field and I
am proud to have had a part in bringing them to patients.”
– James Jett, MD
“The early detection of lung cancer is my thing,” says Dr. James Jett. Even when others tried to dissuade him from specializing in pulmonary oncology, he knew it was right for him. “My advisor called it a ‘dead-end’ job and told me not to do it,” he recalls.
Back then, things were very different for a physician treating lung cancer patients. “The goal was to help folks make the best of a bad situation,” Dr. Jett remembers. “In those days we were not having many successes.”
But things have changed. Dr. Jett is proud of having been a part of the progress that we have seen in the early detection and treatment of lung cancer over the past few decades. “Lung cancer is a lot more fun now,” he says. “The advancements in CT scans and the discoveries of specific mutations for targeted therapies have revolutionized the field and I am proud to have had a small part in bringing them to patients.”
An internationally recognized lung cancer expert, Dr. Jett, recently left the Mayo Clinic where he saw patients and conducted clinical trials for 29 years. He now practices at National Jewish Health in Denver while serving as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology. He is in the process of establishing two new clinical trials in the early detection of lung cancer at National Jewish.
“Screening for lung cancer is still a major issue. Often doctors detect a nodule and then conduct a biopsy or surgery for what turns out to be benign disease,” explains Dr. Jett. “A lot of companies are looking at blood biomarkers to try to enhance our ability to accurately detect lung cancer.”
Solid scientific research is one of the main reasons we have had so many exciting improvements in lung cancer treatment and detection. “We can now do things that we couldn’t have done ten years ago. There are many new drugs in the pipeline and, if even a few of them work, we will have significant changes in lung cancer treatment.”
Dr. Jett’s belief in the power of innovative research compels him to serve on LUNGevity’s Scientific Advisory Board. “LUNGevity is a good organization that funds research with a lot of potential. These projects could be real game-changers in the detection and treatment of lung cancer.”
After devoting his entire career to lung cancer patients as a pulmonary oncologist, Dr. Jett is glad he didn’t listen to his advisor so many years ago. “We have had the excitement of seeing some victories and improvements in the field. And as we continue to fund research, we will be able to help lung cancer patients more than ever before.”