What Is Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the lungs – usually in the cells lining the bronchi (tubes that enter the lungs from the windpipe and allow air to flow in and out) and parts of the lung such as the bronchioles (smaller tubes that carry air in the lungs) or alveoli (tiny air sacs at the end of the bronchioles). Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is one of two main types of lung cancer and makes up 80-85% of lung cancer cases. There are three subtypes of NSCLC – each affecting a different type of cell: adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma. These three types have similar prognoses and treatments.
- Adenocarcinoma: This type of cancer is mainly found in current or former smokers but is also the most common lung cancer found in non-smokers. It’s more common in women than men, is the most common lung cancer for younger people, and is usually found in the outer parts of the lungs.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: This type of cancer starts in squamous cells, which are flat cells that line the inside of the airways in the lungs. Squamous cell cancer is usually linked to a history of smoking and tends to be found in the central part of the lungs, near a main airway (bronchus).
- Large cell carcinoma: This type of cancer can appear in any part of the lung and tends to grow and spread quickly, which can make it harder to treat.
What Is a MET Alteration and How Is It Related to Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)?
The MET gene is involved in sending signals within cells and in cell growth and survival. Mutated or altered forms of the MET gene may cause abnormal cells to grow and spread in the body. Some cancers are caused when there is a change or mistake in the body’s DNA, causing a tumor to grow. These DNA mistakes are known as biomarkers, and physicians can test for them when examining a tumor.
The two MET alterations physicians look for in NSCLC are extra copies of the MET gene and errors in the MET protein. When patients have a MET gene amplification, they have extra copies of the gene, MET in the body. Since MET is a growth receptor, having extra copies of the MET gene means that there are extra growth signals being sent to the cancer. The MET gene contains proteins that help with cell growth, but those proteins need to be discarded once they’ve done their job. When a patient has a specific error in the MET gene called exon 14 skipping, mutations prevent the protein from being discarded and it causes problems in the cell and sends growth signals that can promote cancer.
Should I Get Biomarker Testing If I Am Diagnosed with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer?
If you have been diagnosed with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC), you should get biomarker testing for MET alterations. MET alterations are most found in adenocarcinoma NSCLC, and they are rare – found in about 5% of NSCLC, but there are specific treatments that target these biomarkers and can be very effective. For example, MET amplification is a predictive biomarker in some patients, and if you have a very high number of copies of the MET gene, you might respond better to a MET targeted therapy.
How Do I Find Out If I have a MET Alteration Biomarker?
MET alterations can be detected through next-generation sequencing (NGS). This is a test in which tissue from a patient’s tumor is placed in a machine that looks for a large number of possible biomarkers at one time. Testing for the MET amplification may also be done through a test called FISH that can be used to calculate the extra number of MET copies in cancer cells. Make sure to speak to your doctor about having this testing done.
What Are MET Targeted Therapies?
Common treatments for MET exon 14 skipping include a targeted therapy MET inhibitor drug called capmatinib or tepotinib. These work by interrupting the signal from the mutated gene to prevent it from reaching the cell and therefore slowing the progression of the tumor. Other treatments include immunotherapy with or without chemotherapy, or clinical trials of other MET inhibitors. Treatments for MET amplification also includes clinical trials for MET inhibitors, and immunotherapy with or without chemotherapy.
How Do I Find Clinical Trials for MET Alteration Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer?
There are approximately 835 clinical trials for non-small cell lung cancer patients recruiting patients in the United States. With such a long list of trials, it is difficult to know which one is the most beneficial for you. Our team of patient advocates and case managers, along with our artificial intelligence based clinical trial matching system will find the best option for your individual case. Find clinical trials here.
Some Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Metastasis Clinical Trials focus on new molecules targeting NSCLC biomarkers – there are currently over 100 active and recruiting trials that focus specifically on MET biomarkers.