Stage IV Lung Cancer With ALK (Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase) Rearrangement

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Targeted therapy, one of the foundations of precision medicine, is a concept in the treatment of cancers that involves administering drugs that specifically target a known abnormality of the tumor cells that drives the growth of these cells. In contrast, most standard chemotherapy drugs target all actively dividing cells rather than just the cancer cells. Targeted therapies are sometimes called "molecularly targeted therapies" because they are developed to attack cancer cells with specific molecular changes. The choice to "target" specific genetic mutations or changes with drugs is made because these unfortunate genetic changes allow cancer cells to grow and survive.

Non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) have been shown over the past several years to contain so-called "driver" mutations in certain oncogenes. When these mutations are present, an abnormal protein is produced that leads to growth signaling changes that allow the tumor cells to grow and divide. Driver mutations or genetic changes have been identified in a number of different genes, including AKT1, ALK, BRAF, EGFR, HER2, KRAS, MEK1, MET, NRAS, PIK3CA, RET, and ROS1.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/1/2016

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