Non-small cell lung cancer: the era of targeted therapy
Mara B Antonoff, Jonathan D'Cunha
Division of Thoracic and Foregut Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
Abstract: In this review, the authors aim to provide an overview of current molecular targeted therapies for NSCLC, to propose an algorithm for clinical application of presently available treatment strategies, and to identify future directions for this important area of research. Historically, choice of treatment algorithm for the management of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has relied heavily upon histology and clinical staging information, typically assigning patients to surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination thereof. However, previous treatment strategies have been fraught with disappointing response rates and significant systemic toxicities. The concept of personalized therapy for NSCLC involves characterization of each individual patient's tumor, in terms of genetic aberrations and expected biologic behavior, and using this information to tailor subsequent clinical management. Several driver mutations have been identified to date in subsets of patients with NSCLC, and, by focusing on specific molecular targets, new agents have been developed with the intent of treating the cancer cells while causing minimal toxicity to benign, healthy cells. In particular, current strategies exist to identify patients with epidermal growth factor receptor gene mutations and anaplastic lymphoma kinase rearrangements, with promising results upon clinical application of agents targeting these abnormalities. Moving forward, attempts are being made to determine comprehensive genetic and biologic characterization of individuals' NSCLC tumors and to incorporate these findings into everyday practice. The era of targeted therapy is upon us. As we seek to expand our knowledge of the specific molecular and cellular derangements leading to growth and proliferation of NSCLC tumors, our efforts bring us closer to ultimately providing each patient with a personalized plan of care.
Keywords: personalized therapy, algorithm, EGFR, ALK, KRAS
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