Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My wife is a never-smoker with metastatic lung cancer of the adenocarcinoma type. I saw the ABC news show on EML4/ALK. Is this an option for her?
EML4/ALK is an exciting discovery that I think shows where we are going in lung cancer therapy in that understanding a bit about how the cancer works is informing our therapy and we are moving fast. The fusion protein was discovered in 2007 and phase I and II testing have already been completed. In the phase II trial, patients with the fusion protein had an over 50% response rate, which is fantastic for lung cancer. The phase III trial is ongoing.
Unfortunately, EML4/ALK is present in only about 4% of patients with lung cancer. The patients most likely to have this translocation and be eligible for the therapy are light or never smokers with adenocarcinoma, with no mutations in EGFR or kRAS. Also, women are more likely than men to have the mutation. So, while only your doctor can give you definite answers to these kinds of questions, everything you've said here suggests that it's worth considering.
This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series, Lung Cancer: Where are We Now? View the entire transcript.