Anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive metastatic non–small cell lung cancer
Lung cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Canada and is the leading cause of death from cancer for both men and women. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of cancerous tumour of the lung, representing 85 per cent of lung cancers.
A small number of non-small cell lung cancers have a chromosomal rearrangement in the Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) gene, which can lead to the cancer growing and spreading. This type of cancer is called ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer. Between three to five per cent of NSCLC tumours are ALK-positive.
People with this type of lung cancer are typically younger in age and either have no history of smoking or are former light smokers. Many also have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis.
ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer often spreads even after initial therapy, with the brain, or central nervous system as the most common site of disease progression, which can affect survival.
New advancements in medical research and treatment are helping to slow the progression of this disease, allowing some patients to live longer and spend more quality time with family and friends.