Understanding ALK+ NSCLC

A new perspective in first-line anaplastic lymphoma kinase positive (ALK+) NSCLC treatment is vital for patients with debilitating brain metastases.

What is ALK+ NSCLC?  

ALK+ NSCLC is a unique, aggressive form of lung cancer that affects non-smoking patients who are relatively younger compared with the median age for NSCLC diagnosis.1 The ALK gene is a key oncogenic driver in NSCLC.2 In ALK+ NSCLC, a chromosomal rearrangement in the ALK gene results in the formation of a fusion oncogene which may lead to constitutive kinase activation and increased growth of cancer cells.3

NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) recommend ALK testing in all patients with metastatic nonsquamous NSCLC or NSCLC not otherwise specified. Testing can also be considered in patients with metastatic squamous NSCLC. Results from testing can guide treatment strategies.4

Between 3% and 5% of NSCLC tumors are ALK+, representing more than 5,800 new cases of ALK+ NSCLC in the US per year.5-7 

Although there is no cure, ALK+ NSCLC can be treated with ALK inhibitors. These ALK inhibitors target the ALK gene to prevent protein activation, cell proliferation, and tumor growth.8

ALK+ NSCLC Patients

51 years.

the median age for ALK+ mNSCLC diagnosis1

70 years.

the median age for NSCLC diagnosis9

Because patients with ALK+ mNSCLC are often diagnosed at a younger age than those who are not ALK+ and may therefore spend more time on therapy, it’s important to choose a first-line treatment that may provide central nervous system (CNS) efficacy in addition to the long-term tolerability.

Brain Metastases Can Significantly Impact Patients’ Lives10

Lung cancer is the most common source of brain mets and accounts for at least half of all the cases.11

Up to 35%.

of patients have brain metastases at diagnosis12

Up to 75 percent.

of patients will develop brain metastases during the course of their disease13-15

Brain mets can impact a patient's everyday life in a number of ways:


Behavioral and personality changes10


Cognitive issues, including speech problems10





These are not all the effects of brain mets that patients may experience. Taken together, these issues can increase the burden on patients as well as the impact on care partners.10

mNSCLC, metastatic NSCLC; NCCN, National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®); NSCLC, non-small cell lung cancer.