Dr. Christine Lovly, Lisa Goldman

Dr. Christine Lovly of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center digs a little deeper into how targeted therapy works in lung cancer. With patient and advocate Lisa Goldman asking the questions, Dr. Lovly provides more in-depth discussions regarding TKIs and their use.

What is a TKI?

Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have been introduced into the first-line treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). TKIs are actually pills that can target cancer. There are many different types of TKIs just like there are many many brands of ketchup or salad dressing. There’s lots of different kinds of TKIs that target different parts of the cancer.

Are TKIs easier to tolerate than chemotherapy?

The side effects of the TKIs can be very different depending on what specific drug a patient is taking. In general, the quality of life is improved by not having to sit in an infusion room for six, seven, eight hours. These are pills that you can take at home, that you can take with your other medicines sometimes.

The side effects can be very different depending on what specific TKI a patient is taking. But in general, the side effects of TKIs are different from the side effects of traditional chemotherapy. They don’t cause the same amount of risk for infection. They don’t cause the same amount of lowering your blood counts.

Are TKIs only for stage 4 patients or can earlier stage patients talk to their doctors about TKIs?

So right now the way we use TKIs is mostly for patients who have stage 4 cancer or cancer that’s spread to other parts of the body. But there are lots of ongoing studies in lung cancer to try to understand can we use TKIs earlier.