Targeted therapies for lung cancer

Targeted therapies are drugs which interfere with the way cells grow and divide.

Targeted therapies are used to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has spread outside the lung or to other parts of the body.

Your doctor does tests on the cancer cells called molecular testing. The doctor does the tests on cells the tissue they take during a biopsy or surgery, or occasionally on blood taken with a blood test.

These tests help find out if some of these drugs are suitable options for you. Targeted therapies do not work for everyone with NSCLC.

Targeted therapy drugs interfere with the way cancer cells signal or interact with each other. This stops them growing and dividing. The drugs may help:

  • shrink the cancer
  • stop it growing
  • improve your symptoms.

Your doctor may recommend a targeted therapy drug after you have already had other treatments. They often give the drug on its own, or sometimes with chemotherapy. Or if molecular testing shows targeted therapy drugs are the most effective treatment for you, you might have it as your first treatment. Targeted therapy drugs for NSCLC are:

Each of these drugs works in different ways and may cause different side effects. Your cancer doctor, nurse or pharmacist can tell you more about this.

Your doctor might talk to you about having these drugs as part of a clinical trial. Newer targeted therapies are being developed and becoming available.