Non-small-cell lung cancer is a heterogeneous disease that is difficult to treat. Through efforts to define the molecular mechanisms involved in lung oncogenesis, molecularly targeted approaches for patients with lung cancer have now reached the clinical arena. Despite elucidation of some molecular mechanisms of lung carcinogenesis, prognosis for patients remains poor. This Review aims to highlight the functional associations between key oncogenes that drive lung tumorigenesis and are distinct targetable molecules. Oncogenes are defined by acquisition of mutations, which results in a dominant gain-of-function of the targeted protein. In this situation, a single mutated allele is sufficient to induce malignant transformation. Importantly, tumours become addicted to particular genetic alterations that cause oncogene activation and the continued expression of the signalling. An increasing amount of evidence sustains the rationale for targeting of oncogenic pathways rather than a single oncogene. A clear priority for both researchers and clinicians is to better understand the complexity of biological networks underlying lung cancer pathogenesis. This paradigmatic shift in tailoring therapies should effectively improve outcomes for patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine