Our Understanding of ALK+ NSCLC Is Evolving
For years, lung cancer was thought to be a single illness linked to smoking. But science has taught us that lung cancer is a complex disease with many types and subtypes. It can develop in men and women of different ages and races, regardless of whether they've ever smoked.
One subtype of lung cancer is ALK+ NSCLC. Living with ALK+ NSCLC can be challenging and sometimes discouraging, especially if it continues to grow or spread (known as "progression"). If it does, you should know that there are certain therapies called ALK inhibitors that may help you. They may be effective as the first therapy you receive, and some of them may be effective even after you've already taken one or more prior ALK inhibitors.
The ALK Fusion Gene
Everyone has the ALK gene in each of their cells. If part of the ALK gene breaks off and reattaches the wrong way, it can create an ALK fusion gene. This may cause the cell to multiply out of control, resulting in cancer growth.
Because there are ALK inhibitor treatments available, doctors can create treatment plans specifically for people with ALK+ NSCLC that has spread (or "metastasized").
NSCLC accounts for 80% to 85% of all lung cancer cases; 3% to 5% of people with NSCLC test positive for the ALK fusion gene.