Worldwide, lung cancer is the most common malignancy and the most common cause of cancer deaths in the past decades. In 2012, a total of 1.8 million new cases were estimated, accounting for 12.9% of all new cancer diagnoses.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most commonly diagnosed type of lung cancer, accounting for approximately 85% of all cases. The main subtypes are adenocarcinoma, representing about 40% of all non-small cell lung cancers, and squamous cell carcinoma, 25% to 30%.
Adenocarcinomas originate from early versions of the cells that would normally secrete substances such as mucus. Adenocarcinoma is usually found in outer parts of the lung.
Squamous carcinomas originate from early versions of squamous cells, which are flat cells that line the inside of the airways in the lungs. They tend to be found in the central part of the lungs, near a main airway (bronchus).
Traditionally, treatment options have included surgery (for patients with earlier stage disease), radiation therapy and chemotherapy, alone or in combination. More recently, new treatment options, including biological therapies, have become available for the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer.
Despite recent advances, there still remains a large unmet medical need in the treatment of NSCLC, in particular in the advanced stages of the disease, including patients with brain metastases.