Getting an accurate diagnosis is important, so your doctor will make sure you have various tests to find out as much about your cancer as possible. That way, you and they can work together to create the best possible treatment plan for you.
Tests to see if you have a change in your ALK gene will include a biopsy – you can learn more about these here.
You can learn more about how changes to your genes can cause cancer here.
When thinking about what it means to have ALK+ NSCLC, many people wonder what their prognosis is. But cancer is a highly complex disease that can be affected by lots of different factors, so it’s hard for a doctor to give anybody an exact amount of time. These factors can include:
It's worth being aware that ALK+ NSCLC is considered more aggressive than some other forms of NSCLC26 – nine out of 10 people are diagnosed after the cancer has already spread to other parts of their body (called ‘metastasis’, or ‘advanced cancer’).27,28 With regular chemotherapy, about half of people with advanced ALK+ NSCLC pass away about 2 years after their diagnosis.29
However, research has led to the discovery of modern treatments called ‘ALK inhibitors’, which are specifically designed to treat ALK+ NSCLC.30,31
These ALK inhibitors have helped increase the time that somebody can live with ALK+ NSCLC. In 2019, a clinical trial in 110 people with advanced, stage 4 ALK+ NSCLC was published. It found that with treatment, half of the patients were still alive almost 7 years later.32