Targeted therapies for lung cancer: Clinical experience and novel agents

Jill E. Larsen, Tina Cascone, David E. Gerber, John V. Heymach, John D. Minna

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Although lung cancer remains the leading cancer killer in the United States, recently a number of developments indicate future clinical benefit. These include evidence that computed tomography-based screening decreases lung cancer mortality, the use of stereotactic radiation for early-stage tumors, the development of molecular methods to predict chemotherapy sensitivity, and genome-wide expression and mutation analysis data that have uncovered oncogene "addictions" as important therapeutic targets. Perhaps the most significant advance in the treatment of this challenging disease is the introduction of molecularly targeted therapies, a term that currently includes monoclonal antibodies and small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors. The development of effective targeted therapeutics requires knowledge of the genes and pathways involved and how they relate to the biologic behavior of lung cancer. Drugs targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor, anaplastic lymphoma kinase, and vascular endothelial growth factor are now U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved for the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer. These agents are generally better tolerated than conventional chemotherapy and show dramatic efficacy when their use is coupled with a clear understanding of clinical data, mechanism, patient selection, drug interactions, and toxicities. Integrating genome-wide tumor analysis with drug- and targeted agent-responsive phenotypes will provide a wealth of new possibilities for lung cancer-targeted therapeutics. Ongoing research efforts in these areas as well as a discussion of emerging targeted agents being evaluated in clinical trials are the subjects of this review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-527
Number of pages16
JournalCancer Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • ALK
  • EGFR
  • Lung cancer
  • VEGF
  • genome-wide tumor analysis
  • monoclonal antibody
  • targeted therapies
  • tyrosine kinase inhibitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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