Targeted Therapies for Lung Cancer | American Lung Association

This website uses cookies. By continuing you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

Targeted Therapies for Lung Cancer

Learn more:

Watch Dr. Edward Kim explain how targeted therapy works

Watch video

Key Points

  • Tumor testing determines if a lung cancer tumor has a certain change or mutation that is making it grow.
  • Targeted therapies "target" these mutations in different ways.
  • Targeted lung cancer therapies are more specific and may have fewer side effects than chemotherapy.

Lung cancer treatment that kills cancer cells also can affect normal cells, causing unwanted side effects. New lung cancer drugs called targeted therapies help reduce damage to healthy cells. They focus on cancer cells by interrupting their growth and how they function. These therapies attack specific targets on or in the tumor cells. Not every person is eligible for targeted therapies for lung cancer. Your doctor might order a special test of your tumor called molecular testing or biomarker testing. Talk to your doctor about your testing options and treatment recommendations. Targeted therapy drugs work in different ways to chemotherapy.

Mutations all affect a different part of the complicated communication systems within and between cells. These mutations influence the division and promote the growth of the tumor cells. Therapies exist to target some of these mutations. Some of the more common targeted lung cancer therapies include:

What You Need to Know About Tumor Testing

What is tumor testing? What exactly should I be asking my doctor about it? Learn more about how tumor testing works, who benefits from it and what you need to discuss with your doctor in our question and answer guide to lung cancer tumor testing. Read What You Need to Know About Tumor Testing questions and answers.

Talk to your doctors or nurses icon

Take Action

Lung cancer therapies are always changing. Talk to your doctor about getting your tumor tested to see if you are a candidate for targeted lung cancer therapies and about joining a clinical trial for targeted therapy. Download a list of suggested questions.


Join other patients and healthcare professionals to learn about latest trends, resources and research surrounding lung cancer, COPD, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis and other lung diseases. Register today.

    PDF Download

    What You Need to Know About Lung Cancer Tumor Testing

    Webpage Resource

    Ask the Expert: Personalized Care - What You Need to Know

    Learn more

    Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed November 18, 2017.

    Page Last Updated: October 3, 2018

    Sign up for updates

    Stay up to date on the latest news and information on the fight against lung cancer.

    Red button with telephone
    Ask An Expert

    Questions about your lung health? Need help finding healthcare? Call 1-800-LUNGUSA.

    Get help
    Red button of two hand prints
    We need your generous support

    Make a difference by delivering research, education and advocacy to those impacted by lung disease.

    Button of turquoise LUNG FORCE swirl
    What is LUNG FORCE?

    LUNG FORCE unites women and their loved ones across the country to stand together in the fight against lung cancer.

    Get involved
    Join the fight for healthy lungs and healthy air.
    Donate Now.