6 FDA-approved medications to treat lung cancer
One of the leading causes of cancer deaths, lung cancer has been known to claim more lives every year than prostate, colon, breast, and ovarian cancer together. It begins in the lungs and, depending on the stage, can spread to other parts of the body as well. Lung cancer has multiple causes. However, people who tend to smoke are at a higher risk of lung cancer. The risk increases with the length of time and the number of cigarettes smoked. Other causes include passive smoking, exposure to radon gas, exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens, and a family history of lung cancer.
Lung cancer causes coughing that doesn’t go away. Additionally, a person suffering from lung cancer can cough up blood, and experience shortness of breath, chest pain, hoarseness, unexplained weight loss, bone pain, and headache. Treatment usually includes surgery and medications. The below-mentioned medications are FDA-approved and need to be taken only when prescribed by a medical expert.
- Xalkori: Also known as crizotinib, Xalkori has been approved by the FDA for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Earlier prescribed to those with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, this medication is now recommended to those with ROS1-positive non-small cell lung cancer that had started spreading. It works as an inhibitor in targeted therapy. It blocks the changes in lung cancer cells and that interferes with the growth and spread of the cancerous cells.
- Tagrisso: Also called osimertinib, Tagrisso is used for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. The medication is a type of tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI); it inhibits an enzyme known as tyrosine kinases, which is involved in cell signaling. Tyrosine kinases are involved in the stimulation of cell division and are active in the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells. Tagrisso controls these enzymes and blocks the growth and spread of cancerous cells.
- Alecensa: This medication is used for the treatment of ALK-positive metastatic (advanced) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). ALK is the anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene. In lung cancer patients, the chromosomal rearrangement of the gene causes the formation of fusion proteins in cancerous tissues. ALK then causes the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. Also known as alectinib, Alcensa targets and interrupts ALK from stimulating the growth of cancerous cells. Additionally, it blocks the growth of the tumor and causes cancer cells to die, thus reducing the size of the tumor.
- Gilotrif: Also known as Afatinib and Giotrif, Gilotrif is an anti-cancer medication useful for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. It is used for targeted treatment with better outcomes and lesser side effects. This medication works as an irreversible inhibitor of the tyrosine kinases EGRF and HER2. It slows down the progression of lung cancer.
- Iressa: Also known as gefitinib, Iressa is prescribed for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). It is generally recommended when NSCLC has spread to other parts of the body. Iressa is prescribed to those who have specific mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene and have not undergone any previous cancer treatments. This medication works as a kinase inhibitor and blocks the proteins that aid in the growth of cancer cells. It slows down the growth of cancerous cells and reduces the size of the tumor.
- Alimta: This lung cancer medication is specifically prescribed for non-small cell lung cancer. It is a folate analog metabolic inhibitor. Alimta is generally used in combination with platinum chemotherapy and other medications.