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Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2011 Winter;23(4):281-90. doi: 10.1053/j.semtcvs.2012.01.001.

Personalized therapy for non-small cell lung cancer: which drug for which patient?

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  • 1Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15232


The elucidation of the molecular alterations in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and the development of molecularly targeted agents have permanently shifted NSCLC therapy to a personalized approach. In the metastatic setting, the addition of the anti-vascular endothelial growth factor monoclonal antibody, bevacizumab, to chemotherapy improves overall survival. The oral epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors, gefitinib and erlotinib, prolong progression-free survival in patients selected for the presence of an EGFR activating mutation. The monoclonal antibody to EGFR, cetuximab, improves survival in patients with metastatic NSCLC, and the inhibitor of the echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4-anaplastic lymphoma kinase (EML4-ALK) fusion protein, crizotinib, has resulted in an unprecedented overall survival advantage in patients harboring the EML4-ALK translocation. In the adjuvant setting, gefitinib has not been shown to improve patient survival outcomes; however, there are several ongoing clinical trials in the adjuvant setting evaluating the role of erlotinib, bevacizumab, and the MAGE-A3 and MUC1 vaccines. The realm of personalized lung cancer therapy also includes the study of chemotherapy selected on the basis of the pharmacogenetic profile of a patient's tumor. Several ongoing clinical trials in both the metastatic and adjuvant settings are studying the excision repair cross-complementing group 1 (ERCC1) protein, the ribonucleotide reductase subunit 1 (RRM1) protein, thymidylate synthase, and BRCA1 as predictors of chemotherapy response. This review will outline the current state of the art of personalized NSCLC therapy.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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