Small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors in the treatment of solid tumors: an update of recent developments

Ann Surg Oncol. 2007 Feb;14(2):942-53. doi: 10.1245/s10434-006-9227-1. Epub 2006 Nov 14.


Small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are developed to block intracellular signaling pathways in tumor cells, leading to deregulation of key cell functions such as proliferation and differentiation. Over 25 years ago, tyrosine kinases were found to function as oncogenes in animal carcinogenesis; however, only recently TKIs were introduced as anti cancer drugs in human cancer treatment. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors have numerous good qualities. First, in many tumor types they tend to stabilize tumor progression and may create a chronic disease state which is no longer immediately life threatening. Second, side effects are minimal when compared to conventional chemotherapeutic agents. Third, synergistic effects are seen in vitro when TKIs are combined with radiotherapy and/or conventional chemotherapeutic agents. In this article, we will give an update of the tyrosine kinase inhibitors that are currently registered for use or in an advanced stage of development, and we will discuss the future role of TKIs in the treatment of solid tumors. The following TKIs are reviewed: Imatinib (Gleevec/Glivec), Gefitinib (Iressa), Erlotinib (OSI-774, Tarceva), Lapatinib (GW-572016, Tykerb), Canertinib (CI-1033), Sunitinib (SU 11248, Sutent), Zactima (ZD6474), Vatalanib (PTK787/ZK 222584), Sorafenib (Bay 43-9006, Nexavar), and Leflunomide (SU101, Arava).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases