Targeted Therapies for Lung Cancer

Customized Therapies for Specific Tumors

View the WGN-TV report, "Cracking the Code of Cancer Cells," featuring Ravi Salgia, MD, PhD, talking about personalized medicine and targeted therapies for lung cancer.

The latest treatments for lung cancer are medicines that interfere with the growth and spread of cancer cells. Called targeted therapies, these medicines are used along with chemotherapy and radiation. They are sometimes referred to as molecular-targeted drugs because they focus on specific changes that occur in cells when they become cancer.

Targeted therapies are promising because they may produce fewer side effects than other treatments, such as chemotherapy. Some types of targeted therapies include:

  • Small-molecule inhibitors, which block enzymes needed for cancer growth
  • Monoclonal antibodies, angiogenesis inhibitors, and gene therapies, which work in different ways to halt cancer. Researchers have discovered that one of the newest ways to treat cancer is by cutting off the blood supply to tumors. For instance, angiogenesis inhibitors are used this way to treat some types of lung cancer.

One example of a targeted therapy is erlotinib, which is used to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer. It works by targeting a genetic mutation called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is produced by cancer cells.

Recently, new types of targeted therapies have been approved to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer. One large trial found that patients who received the drug bevacizumab plus chemotherapy had better outcomes than patients who received just chemotherapy.

Fighting Cancer by Revving Up the Immune System

WGN nivolumab for lung cancer

View a WGN-TV report about a new immune therapy for squamous cell carcinoma, a type of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). UChicago Medicine patient Alford Thomas and medical oncologist Ravi Salgia, MD, PhD, are featured in the story. "Many trials have gone on, but we hadn't seen such surprising results like we had with this drug. This is the first time for lung cancer where we have a direct hit in the immune function," Salgia said.