Biomarker guided treatment in oncogene-driven advanced non-small cell lung cancer in older adults: A Young International Society of Geriatric Oncology Report

J Geriatr Oncol. 2022 May 4;S1879-4068(22)00105-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jgo.2022.04.013. Online ahead of print.


Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, with most patients diagnosed at an advanced age. The treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has been revolutionized with the introduction of molecular guided therapy. Despites the challenges when considering treatment of older adults, they are still systematically underrepresented in registrational trials. This review aims to summarize the existing evidence on treatment of older patients with lung cancer with a targetable driver mutation or alteration (EGFR, ALK, ROS, BRAFV600E, MET, RET, KRASG12C and NTRK), and consider the evidence from a geriatric oncology perspective. Early generation EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). TKIs are fairly well-studied in older adults and have been shown to be safe and efficient. However, older adult-specific data regarding the standard-of-care first-line agent osimertinib are lacking. Erlotinib, dacomitinib, and afatinib may be more toxic than other EGFR-TKIs. Next generation ALK-TKIs are preferred over crizotinib due to increased efficacy, as demonstrated in phase III trials. Alectinib seems to be safer than crizotinib, while brigatinib is associated with increased toxicity. Lorlatinib overcomes most resistance mutations, but data regarding this agent have only recently emerged. Regarding ROS1-fusion positive NSCLC, crizotinib is an option in older adults, while entrectinib is similarly effective but shows increased neurotoxicity. In BRAFV600E-mutant NSCLC, the combination darbafenib/tramectinib is effective, but no safety data for older adults exist. MET alterations can be targeted with capmatinib and tepotinib, and registrational trials included primarily older patients, due to the association of this alteration with advanced age. For RET-rearranged-NSCLC selpercatinib and pralsetinib are approved, and no differences in safety or efficacy between older and younger patients were shown. KRASG12C mutations, which are more frequent in older adults, became recently druggable with sotorasib, and advanced age does not seem to affect safety or efficacy. In NTRK-fusion positive tumors, larotrectinib and entrectinib have tumor agnostic approval, however, not enough data on older patients are available. Based on currently available data, molecularly-guided therapy for most alterations is safe and efficacious in older adults with oncogene-driven advanced NSCLC. However, for many TKIs, older adult-specific data are lacking, and should be subject of future prospective evaluations.

Keywords: Biomarker guided therapy; Elderly; Geriatric oncology; NSCLC; Non-small cell lung cancer; Older adult; Personalized medicine; Targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Review