Lung cancer, ~80%-85% of which is non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. Sensitizing mutations in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene (EGFRm+), such as exon 19 deletions and exon 21 L858R point mutations, are the most important drivers in NSCLC patients. In this respect, small-molecule EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have been designed and developed, which launched the era of targeted, personalized and precise medicine for lung cancer. Patients with EGFRm+ could achieve good responses to the treatment with the first-generation EGFR TKIs, such as erlotinib and gefitinib. However, most patients develop acquired drug resistance mostly driven by the T790M mutation occurring within exon 20. Although the second-generation EGFR TKIs, such as afatinib, dacomitinib and neratinib, demonstrated promising activity against T790M in preclinical models, they have failed to overcome resistance in patients due to dose-limiting toxicity. Recently, the third-generation EGFR TKIs have shown to be effective against cell lines and murine models harboring T790M mutations while sparing wild-type EGFR, which represents a promising breakthrough approach in overcoming T790M-mediated resistance in NSCLC patients. This article provides a comprehensive review of the therapy revolution for NSCLC with three generations of EGFR TKIs.
Keywords: T790M mutation; epidermal growth factor receptor; lung cancer; tyrosine kinase inhibitors.