Customizing Therapies for Specific Tumors

There are now treatments specifically designed to target those parts of cancer cells which cause uncontrolled growth and spread. They are sometimes referred to as molecular-targeted drugs because they focus on specific changes that occur inside cells when they become cancerous. These “targeted therapies” may be used alone, or in specific cases, after surgery.

Common targeted therapies for patients with non-small cell lung cancer include:

  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors block enzymes needed for cancer cell growth. For example, the drug osimertinib targets the EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) gene. When the EGFR gene is mutated and overactive, it allows cancer cells to grow quickly. 

    The identification of mutations is expanding and now includes: EGFR, ALK, ROS1, BRAF, MET, RET, and NTRK. The mutations KRAS and HER2 are under investigation.
  • Angiogenesis inhibitors work in different ways to halt cancer. For example, researchers discovered that cutting off a tumor’s blood supply is one way to kill cancer cells. The drug bevacizumab, a monoclonal antibody and angiogenesis inhibitor, stops cancer cells from developing new blood vessels to support their growth.

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Understanding Lung Cancer

Physicians Christine Bestvina, MD, Jessica Donington, MD, and patient Kathy Tentinger joined us for a candid conversation on lung cancer
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