Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Therapy for Brain Metastases in Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: A Primer for Radiologists

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2020 May;41(5):738-750. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A6477. Epub 2020 Mar 26.


Treatment options for patients who develop brain metastases secondary to non-small-cell lung cancer have rapidly expanded in recent years. As a key adjunct to surgical and radiation therapy options, systemic therapies are now a critical component of the oncologic management of metastatic CNS disease in many patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. The aim of this review article was to provide a guide for radiologists, outlining the role of systemic therapies in metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer, with a focus on tyrosine kinase inhibitors. The critical role of the blood-brain barrier in the development of systemic therapies will be described. The final sections of this review will provide an overview of current imaging-based guidelines for therapy response. The utility of the Response Assessment in Neuro-Oncology criteria will be discussed, with a focus on how to use the response criteria in the assessment of patients treated with systemic and traditional therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / secondary*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Radiologists


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors