Targeted therapies for treatment of non-small cell lung cancer--Recent advances and future perspectives

Int J Cancer. 2016 Jun 1;138(11):2549-61. doi: 10.1002/ijc.29915. Epub 2015 Dec 15.


Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is one of the most deadly cancers worldwide, with poor prognosis once the disease has progressed past the point at which surgery is a viable option. Whilst chemotherapy has improved survival over recent decades, there is still great need for improvements in treatments for patients with advanced disease. Over the last decade, a variety of such drugs have received market approval for treating NSCLC, with a variety of others in the pipeline. Here, we review the development of targeted therapies for the treatment of advanced or metastatic NSCLC, including those already in clinical practice and those in early trials. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors, gefitinib, erlotinib and afatinib; the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibitor, crizotinib; and the anti-vascular endothelial growth factor receptor monoclonal antibody, bevacizumab, are already providing improved survival for patients with NSCLC. Moreover, the discovery of EGFR mutations and ALK rearrangements has enabled the identification of patients who are more likely to benefit from a specific drug. The recent approval of the immune checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab, along with the designation of alectinib and MPDL3280A as breakthrough therapies by the FDA, demonstrates how rapidly this area of research is expanding. Over the last decade there has been significant progress made in the treatment of advanced NSCLC, and the large and varied selection of drugs currently undergoing trials provide great promise for improving the prognosis of this highly prevalent and deadly form of cancer.

Keywords: anaplastic lymphoma kinase; epidermal growth factor receptor; immune checkpoint inhibitors; mutations; targeted therapy; tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Mutation
  • Prognosis
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • ALK protein, human
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases