Adjuvant treatment of non-small cell lung cancer: focus on targeted therapy
In patients with completely resected stage II-IIIA non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), adjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy is associated with a modest, albeit significant, improvement in survival of approximately 5% at 5 years. However, regardless of whether adjuvant chemotherapy has been administered or not, the 5-year survival of these patients remains poor. In recent years, the discovery of targetable gene alterations such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations and anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) rearrangements has revolutionized the therapeutic approach to advanced NSCLC, owing to the introduction for clinical use of selective tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). The outstanding activity shown by EGFR- and ALK-TKIs in advanced NSCLC patients with EGFR mutations or ALK rearrangements, respectively, leads to the logical question of what role these agents may have if used in the adjuvant setting. In the present review we will discuss the emerging data that support the potential benefit of targeted therapy as adjuvant treatment of patients with completely resected NSCLC, and summarize the ongoing clinical trials which will eventually address this issue.