Prevalence and natural history of ALK positive non-small-cell lung cancer and the clinical impact of targeted therapy with ALK inhibitors

Clin Epidemiol. 2014 Nov 20;6:423-32. doi: 10.2147/CLEP.S69718. eCollection 2014.


Improved understanding of molecular drivers of carcinogenesis has led to significant progress in the management of lung cancer. Patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene rearrangements constitute about 4%-5% of all NSCLC patients. ALK+ NSCLC cells respond well to small molecule ALK inhibitors such as crizotinib; however, resistance invariably develops after several months of treatment. There are now several newer ALK inhibitors, with the next generation of agents targeting resistance mutations. In this review, we will discuss the prevalence and clinical characteristics of ALK+ lung cancer, current treatment options, and future directions in the management of this subset of NSCLC patients.

Keywords: anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK); gene rearrangements; kinase inhibitors; lung adenocarcinoma; lung cancer.

Publication types

  • Review