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What Is Crizotinib Used For?

By blocking the action of certain proteins in the body, crizotinib can help slow down the progression of advanced non-small cell lung cancer. This prescription chemotherapy drug is specifically designed for people who have a defect in a particular gene called the anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene. Crizotinib is approved for use in adults age 18 and older.

An Overview of Uses for Crizotinib

Crizotinib (Xalkori®) is a prescription medication approved to treat late-stage, non-small cell lung cancer. Late-stage cancer is cancer that has advanced or spread to other areas of the body (metastasized). Crizotinib is only approved for use in people who have a defect in a specific gene known as the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene.
Lung cancer occurs when malignant (cancer) cells begin to grow in the tissues of the lung. There are two general types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is more common than small cell lung cancer. It also spreads more slowly.
In some people, an abnormal ALK gene is responsible for the development and growth of lung cancer cells. It is estimated that up to 7 percent of people with non-small cell lung cancer have the abnormal ALK gene. People with ALK-positive, non-small cell lung cancer are more likely to be younger and nonsmokers.
You will need to have a genetic test to determine if you have a defect in the ALK gene before beginning crizotinib treatment. In order to perform the test, your healthcare provider will take a small sample, or biopsy, from your lung cancer. The biopsy will then be examined for the presence of an abnormal ALK gene. If the gene is present, you may be able to use crizotinib.

How Does Crizotinib Work?

Tyrosine kinases are proteins found in the body that help regulate cell function, including cell growth. Crizotinib belongs to a group of medicines known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors. It works by blocking the action of tyrosine kinases, including a specific tyrosine kinase known as anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK). When ALK does not function properly, it causes cancer cells to grow. By blocking ALK, crizotinib can slow down the growth of cancer cells and shrink existing tumors.
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Crizotinib Drug Information

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