Introduction: Activating mutations of the EGFR and rearrangement of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) best illustrate the therapeutic relevance of molecular characterization in NSCLC patients.
Areas covered: For this review article, all published data on the most relevant Phase III trials with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) for the treatment of NSCLC were collected and analyzed.
Expert opinion: Eight Phase III trials clearly established EGFR TKIs as the best therapeutic option for front-line therapy in EGFR-mutated patients. In pretreated NSCLC, EGFR TKIs are considered more effective than standard monotherapy with cytotoxics in presence of classical EGFR mutations, whereas in the EGFR wild-type population, a similar efficacy to docetaxel or pemetrexed in term of survival has been demonstrated. In ALK-translocated NSCLC, a Phase III trial demonstrated the superiority of a multi-target TKI, including ALK, in terms of progression-free survival, response rate and toxicity profile when compared to standard second-line chemotherapy. New agents targeting EGFR or ALK are under evaluation particularly in individuals with acquired resistance to EGFR TKIs or crizotinib.
Keywords: NSCLC; afatinib; crizotinib; erlotinib; gefitinib.