Epidermal growth factor receptor inhibition in lung cancer: status 2012

J Thorac Oncol. 2013 Mar;8(3):373-84. doi: 10.1097/JTO.0b013e31827ed0ff.


Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths. Most patients present with advanced-stage disease, and the prognosis is generally poor. However, with the understanding of lung cancer biology, and development of molecular targeted agents, there have been improvements in treatment outcomes for selected subsets of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have demonstrated significantly improved tumor responses and progression-free survival in subsets of patients with advanced NSCLC, particularly those with tumors harboring activating EGFR mutations. Testing for EGFR mutations is a standard procedure for identification of patients who will benefit from first-line EGFR TKIs. For patients with advanced NSCLC and no activating EGFR mutations (EGFR wild-type) or no other driving oncogenes such as ALK-gene rearrangement, chemotherapy is still the standard of care. A new generation of EGFR TKIs, targeting multiple receptors and with irreversible bindings to the receptors, are in clinical trials and have shown encouraging effects. Research on primary and acquired resistant mechanisms to EGFR TKIs are ongoing. Monoclonal antibodies (e.g. cetuximab), in combination with chemotherapy, have demonstrated improved outcomes, particularly for subsets of NSCLC patients, but further validations are needed. Novel monoclonal antibodies are combined with chemotherapy, and randomized comparative studies are ongoing. This review summarizes the current status of EGFR inhibitors in NSCLC in 2012 and some of the major challenges we are facing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Prognosis
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Time Factors


  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • EGFR protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors