A personalized treatment for lung cancer: molecular pathways, targeted therapies, and genomic characterization

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014:799:85-117. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-8778-4_5.


Lung cancer is a heterogeneous, complex, and challenging disease to treat. With the arrival of genotyping and genomic profiling, our simple binary division of lung cancer into non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) is no longer acceptable. In the past decade and with the advent of personalized medicine, multiple advances have been made in understanding the underlying biology and molecular mechanisms of lung cancer. Lung cancer is no longer considered a single disease entity and is now being subdivided into molecular subtypes with dedicated targeted and chemotherapeutic strategies. The concept of using information from a patient's tumor to make therapeutic and treatment decisions has revolutionized the landscape for cancer care and research in general.Management of non-small-cell lung cancer, in particular, has seen several of these advances, with the understanding of activating mutations in EGFR, fusion genes involving ALK, rearrangements in ROS-1, and ongoing research in targeted therapies for K-RAS and MET. The next era of personalized treatment for lung cancer will involve a comprehensive genomic characterization of adenocarcinoma, squamous-cell carcinoma, and small-cell carcinoma into various subtypes. Future directions will involve incorporation of molecular characteristics and next generation sequencing into screening strategies to improve early detection, while also having applications for joint treatment decision making in the clinics with patients and practitioners. Personalization of therapy will involve close collaboration between the laboratory and the clinic. Given the heterogeneity and complexity of lung cancer treatment with respect to histology, tumor stage, and genomic characterization, mind mapping has been developed as one of many tools which can assist physicians in this era of personalized medicine. We attempt to utilize the above tool throughout this chapter, while reviewing lung cancer epidemiology, lung cancer treatment, and the genomic characterization of lung cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma* / drug therapy
  • Adenocarcinoma* / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma* / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma* / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell* / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell* / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell* / pathology
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Neoplasm Proteins* / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins* / metabolism
  • Precision Medicine / methods*
  • Precision Medicine / trends
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma* / drug therapy
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma* / genetics
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma* / metabolism
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma* / pathology


  • Neoplasm Proteins