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Personalized medicine and treatment approaches in non-small-cell lung carcinoma

Authors Vadakara J, Borghaei H

Received 14 March 2012

Accepted for publication 9 May 2012

Published 25 September 2012 Volume 2012:5 Pages 113—123

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PGPM.S24258

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2


Joseph Vadakara, Hossein Borghaei

Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Abstract: Chemotherapy has been the traditional backbone for the management of metastatic lung cancer. Multiple trials have shown the benefits of treatment with platinum doublets in lung cancer. This “one treatment fits all” approach was further refined by the introduction of targeted agents and discovery of subpopulations of patients who benefited from treatment with these agents. It has also become evident that certain histologic subtypes of non-small-cell lung cancer respond better to one cytotoxic chemotherapy versus others. This has led to the concept of using histology to guide therapy. With the introduction of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors and the discovery of activating mutations in the EGFR gene, further personalization of treatment for subgroups of patients has become a reality. More recently, the presence of a fusion gene, echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4 – anaplastic lymphoma kinase (EML4-ALK), was identified as the driver mutation in yet another subgroup of patients, and subsequent studies have led to approval of crizotinib in this group of patients. In this article, efforts in personalizing delivery of care based on the histological subtypes of lung cancer and the role of K-RAS and EGFR mutations, EML4/ALK translocation, and ERCC1 (excision repair cross-complementing 1) and EGFR expression in choosing appropriate treatments for patients with advanced lung cancer are discussed. This article also reviews the problem of resistance to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors and the ongoing trials that target novel pathways and mechanisms that are implicated in resistance.

Keywords: NSCLC, EGFR, cancer treatment

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