Customizing Therapies for Specific Tumors

The newest treatments for lung cancer are medications that interfere with the growth and spread of abnormal cells. These “targeted therapies” may be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or advanced bronchoscopy. They are sometimes referred to as molecular-targeted drugs because they focus on specific changes that occur inside cells when they become cancerous. Common targeted therapies for patients with non-small cell lung cancer include:

  • Small-molecule inhibitors, which block enzymes needed for cancer cell growth. For example, the drugs erlotinib and gefitiniib target the EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) gene. When the EGFR gene is mutated and overactive, it allows cancer cells to grow quickly.
  • Monoclonal antibodies, angiogenesis inhibitors and gene therapies work in different ways to halt cancer. Researchers recently discovered one way to target cancer cells is to cut off the blood supply to tumors. The drug bevacizumab, a monoclonal antibody and angiogenesis inhibitor, may stop cancer cells from developing new blood vessels.

Understanding Lung Cancer

Medical oncologist Christine Bestvina, MD, thoracic surgeon Jessica Donington, MD, and patient Kathy Tentinger joined us for a candid conversation on lung cancer screening, novel lung cancer treatment options and the latest clinical trials offered at UChicago Medicine.

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