Genetic alterations defining NSCLC subtypes and their therapeutic implications

Lung Cancer. 2013 Nov;82(2):179-89. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2013.07.025. Epub 2013 Aug 20.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide, accounting for more deaths than breast, prostate and colon cancer combined. While treatment decisions are determined primarily by stage, therapeutically non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has traditionally been treated as a single disease. However, recent findings have led to the recognition of histology and molecular subtypes as important determinants in treatment selection. Identifying the genetic differences that define these molecular and histological subtypes has the potential to impact treatment and as such is currently the focus of much research. Microarray and genomic sequencing efforts have provided unparalleled insight into the genomes of lung cancer subtypes, specifically adenocarcinoma (AC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC), revealing subtype specific genomic alterations and molecular subtypes as well as differences in cell signaling pathways. In this review, we discuss the recurrent genomic alterations characteristic of AC and SqCC (including molecular subtypes), their therapeutic implications and emerging clinical practices aimed at tailoring treatments based on a tumor's molecular alterations with the hope of improving patient response and survival.

Keywords: Actionable alterations; Adenocarcinoma; CNA; Histological subtypes; Methylation; Personalized medicine; Sequencing; Squamous cell carcinoma.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Signal Transduction