About ALK+ lung cancer

​ALK positive lung cancer is a type of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) where a mutation/ rearrangement of the Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) gene is present.

Our DNA is made up of chromosomes and genes, which are responsible for building new cells and instructing the cells how to behave. There can be abnormal changes to these genes, otherwise known as mutations. These mutations can instruct the cell to grow or behave abnormally.

The ALK gene provides instructions for making ALK receptor tyrosine kinase, which is a protein that is part of the signalling pathway that controls cell growth and division. ALK positive lung cancer occurs when part of the ALK gene is broken and attaches to another gene, which creates a fusion between ALK and another gene. This gene change is sometimes called ‘rearrangement’ or ‘translocation’.

This type of mutation blocks messages which tell cells to stop growing. This means cells start to grow abnormally and lead to the growth of tumours.

Genetic changes can be considered as either somatic (changes occurring over a lifetime) or hereditary (changes inherited through families). The ALK gene mutation is considered as somatic. This means that there is often no specific reason why the ALK genes undergoes a mutation or rearrangement.

Cancer stages explained...


Your cancer stage describes the extent of lung cancer in your body and it is used to assess the prognosis of your cancer and treatment plan.


Cancer stages consist of letters and numbers.


The letter T, N and M describe different areas of cancer growth.

Your medical team will be able to
break down and explain your cancer
stage to you.

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Your next steps...

It is completely normal to feel a wide variety of emotions after your diagnosis. You may feel angry, shocked, upset or worried. It’s important to give yourself time to accept and understand your diagnosis and how
this will affect your life. ALK positive lung cancer is a relatively unknown form of lung cancer, so you may have lots of questions. You can ask your medical team and support team any questions, at any time.


Importantly, there are a range of treatment options (otherwise known as targeted therapies) available for ALK positive lung cancer which can slow or stop the spread of cancer. Which route you choose depends on
the results of your biopsy, your physical well-being, whether your cancer has spread and your personal preferences.

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