Role of Targeted Therapy and Immune Checkpoint Blockers in Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Review

Nagla Abdel Karim, Karen Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a complex disease comprising molecularly distinct tumor types, each with a unique biology that is becoming increasingly better characterized. The aim of this review is to present an optimized treatment schema and the accompanying diagnostic testing approach for patients with advanced NSCLC. There are a number of therapies currently approved for patients with advanced NSCLC, including agents that target particular oncogenic drivers, as well as immune checkpoint blockers (ICBs) that elicit an antitumor response. Identification of genetic alterations (e.g., epidermal growth factor receptor, anaplastic lymphoma kinase, reactive oxygen species proto-oncogene 1, B-Raf proto-oncogene) or programmed cell death ligand-1 expression levels in NSCLC requires diligent molecular testing at initial diagnosis and, in some cases, at disease progression to ensure the most efficacious treatment is delivered. Accurate molecular diagnostic testing, along with the careful selection of currently approved targeted agents, ICBs, or systemic chemotherapy, provides therapy that is personalized according to patients’ needs to achieve the best possible outcome. Enrollment in clinical trials that further the development of tailored therapies is highly recommended at all stages of treatment. Implications for Practice: Targeted therapies and immune checkpoint blockers provide effective and tailored options for patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Careful molecular analysis of tumor samples is necessary to identify the genetic alterations that are present, to ensure that each patient receives the most efficacious treatment for their specific tumor type. Personalized therapy provides each patient with the best probability for prolonged survival. Enrolling patients in clinical trials should be the first consideration before making each treatment decision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1270-1284
Number of pages15
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Molecular diagnostic testing
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Personalized medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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