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Lung Cancer Health Center

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Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview


Small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors are targeted therapy drugs that work inside cancer cells and block signals needed for tumors to grow. Small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors may be used with other anticancer drugs as adjuvant therapy.

Small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors used to treat non-small cell lung cancer include erlotinib and gefitinib. They are types of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Crizotinib is another type of small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor that is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer. It is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer that has certain mutations (changes) in the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene. The protein made by the ALK gene has tyrosine kinase activity.

See Drugs Approved for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer for more information.

Laser therapy

Laser therapy is a cancer treatment that uses a laser beam (a narrow beam of intense light) to kill cancer cells.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a cancer treatment that uses a drug and a certain type of laser light to kill cancer cells. A drug that is not active until it is exposed to light is injected into a vein. The drug collects more in cancer cells than in normal cells. Fiberoptic tubes are then used to carry the laser light to the cancer cells, where the drug becomes active and kills the cells. Photodynamic therapy causes little damage to healthy tissue. It is used mainly to treat tumors on or just under the skin or in the lining of internal organs. When the tumor is in the airways, PDT is given directly to the tumor through an endoscope.


Cryosurgery is a treatment that uses an instrument to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue, such as carcinoma in situ. This type of treatment is also called cryotherapy. For tumors in the airways, cryosurgery is done through an endoscope.


Electrocautery is a treatment that uses a probe or needle heated by an electric current to destroy abnormal tissue. For tumors in the airways, electrocautery is done through an endoscope.

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is closely monitoring a patient's condition without giving any treatment until signs or symptoms appear or change. This may be done in certain rare cases of non-small cell lung cancer.

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