Insights into brain metastasis in patients with ALK+ lung cancer: is the brain truly a sanctuary?

Gouji Toyokawa, Takashi Seto, Mitsuhiro Takenoyama, Yukito Ichinose

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83 Citations (Scopus)


Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) has been identified to exert a potent transforming activity through its rearrangement in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and patients (pts) with ALK rearrangement can be treated more successfully with ALK inhibitors, such as crizotinib, alectinib, and ceritinib, than with chemotherapy. Despite the excellent efficacy of ALK inhibitors, resistance to these drugs is inevitably encountered in most ALK-rearranged pts. Cases of resistance are subtyped into three groups, i.e., systemic, oligo, and central nervous system (CNS) types, with the CNS being used to be considered a sanctuary. With regard to the management of CNS lesions in pts with ALK+ NSCLC, a growing body of evidence has gradually demonstrated the intracranial (IC) efficacy of ALK inhibitor (ALKi) in ALK+ NSCLC pts with brain metastases (BMs). Although the efficacy of crizotinib for the CNS lesions remains controversial, a recent retrospective investigation of ALK+ pts with BM enrolled in PROFILE 1005 and PROFILE 1007 demonstrated that crizotinib is associated with a high disease control rate for BM. However, BM comprises the most common site of progressive disease in pts with or without baseline BMs, which is a serious problem for crizotinib. Furthermore, alectinib can be used to achieve strong and long-lasting inhibitory effects on BM. In addition to alectinib, the IC efficacy of other next-generation ALK inhibitors, such as ceritinib, AP26113 and PF-06463922, has been demonstrated. In this article, we review the latest evidence regarding the BM and IC efficacy of ALK inhibitors in pts with ALK+ NSCLC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-805
Number of pages9
JournalCancer and Metastasis Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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