Treatment of Lung Cancer

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Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy drugs are most often used for patients with advanced NSCLC, either along with chemotherapy or by themselves, to stop cancer cells from growing and spreading. They are called “targeted” due to the nature of the drugs that target specific characteristics of the cancer.1

Angiogenesis Inhibitors: Tumour blood vessel growth inhibitors2

For tumours to grow, they need to form new blood vessels to ensure nourishment. This process is called angiogenesis. This new blood vessel growth in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) can be blocked by using angiogenesis inhibitors in the treatment.

Therapies disrupting gene alterations (mutations)2

Targeted therapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) also works by disrupting the mutation of specific types of genes that can stem the growth of the cancer.

Cells with EGFR alterations2

Some NSCLC patient can harbour sensitising mutations in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is a protein found on certain types of cells & is involved in signalling pathways that control cell division and survival. Mutation in EGFR can cause the cancer cells to grow faster. These mutations are more common in women and non-smokers. Drugs called EGFR inhibitors target mutant EGFR proteins to block the growth signal.

Cells with ALK alterations2

About 5% of NSCLC patients have a rearrangement in a gene called anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK). This change is most often seen in non-smokers (or light smokers) who have adenocarcinoma, a malignant tumour formed from glandular structures in epithelial tissue. The ALK gene rearrangement produces an abnormal ALK protein that causes the cells to grow and spread. Drugs called ALK inhibitors target abnormal ALK proteins to block the growth signal.

Cells with BRAF alterations2

BRAF gene normally encodes a protein called B-Raf but mutations can make an altered BRAF protein that helps the cells grow. Some drugs target this altered and related proteins and can be used together to treat metastatic NSCLC if it has a certain type of BRAF gene mutation.

References
1 American Cancer Society. Treatment Choices for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, by Stage. Retrieved on October 2020 from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/treating-non-small-cell/targeted-therapies.html
2 Cancer.net. Lung Cancer - Non-Small Cell: Types of Treatment. Retrieved on October 2020 from https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/lung-cancer-non-small-cell/types-treatment

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