- About Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
- About XALKORI
- Testing for ALK
- Patient Resources
The ALK fusion gene
The ALK fusion gene
A particular genetic defect
Advances in genetics have revealed a number of genetic alterations or defects that are believed to cause some cancers to grow.
One of these, the ALK fusion gene, was discovered in 2007. The ALK fusion gene is an alteration or defect in a normal gene called Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK), and is thought to play a critical role in the growth of some non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs).
About 3%-5% of people with NSCLC may test positive for the ALK fusion gene (ALK+). This number may seem small, but not if you are one of them. And there is no "one type" of person who has it. Men and women with NSCLC who tested ALK+ for clinical trials were of various races and ranged in age from their 20s up to 82. There were smokers, former smokers, and a majority who had never smoked. While some people may be more likely to have the ALK fusion gene in their tumors, there is no true way to know without getting tested.
Getting tested is the only way to know
Anyone with NSCLC should consider getting tested, so talk to your doctor. More and more we are discovering that knowing what drives the cancer helps to drive the choice of a treatment. XALKORI® (crizotinib) is the first medication designed to block the action of the ALK fusion gene. If you test ALK+ and your NSCLC has spread to other parts of your body, it may respond to XALKORI.
XALKORI is a prescription medicine used to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has spread to other parts of the body and is caused by a defect in a gene called ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase). It is not known if XALKORI is safe and effective in children.
How to start the conversation
If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer, here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor:
Are any biomarker tests available for my type of tumor?
Should I be tested for the ALK fusion gene?
When is it appropriate to test me for biomarkers like the ALK fusion gene?
What can biomarker testing tell me about my cancer?
Will I need another biopsy?
If your doctor recommends testing you for biomarkers such as the ALK fusion gene, you may also want to ask:
How could it affect my course of treatment?
In the next section, you’ll learn more about XALKORI — what it is, how it works, and what it could mean for your cancer treatment plan.
XALKORI® (crizotinib) is a prescription medicine used to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has spread to other parts of the body and is caused by a defect in a gene called ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase). It is not known if XALKORI is safe and effective in children.
Important Safety Information
XALKORI® (crizotinib) may cause serious side effects, some of which may include:
Liver problems — XALKORI may cause life-threatening or fatal liver injury. Your doctor should do blood tests to check your liver while you are taking XALKORI. Tell your doctor right away if you get any of the following:
- your skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow
- you feel tired
- your urine turns dark or brown (tea color)
- you have nausea or vomiting
- you have a decreased appetite
- you have pain on the right side of your stomach
- you bleed or bruise more easily than normal
- you have itching
Lung problems (pneumonitis) — XALKORI may cause life-threatening or fatal swelling (inflammation) of the lungs during treatment. Symptoms may be similar to those symptoms from lung cancer. Tell your doctor right away if you have any new or worsening symptoms, including:
- trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- cough with or without mucous
Heart problems — XALKORI may cause very slow, very fast or abnormal heartbeats. Your doctor may check your heart during treatment with XALKORI. Tell your doctor right away if you feel dizzy or faint or have abnormal heartbeats. Tell your doctor if you take any heart or blood pressure medications.
Before you take XALKORI, tell your doctor if you:
- have heart problems, including a condition called long QT syndrome
- have liver or kidney problems
- have any other medical conditions
- are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant. XALKORI may harm your unborn baby.
- >Women who are able to become pregnant and men who take XALKORI should use birth control during treatment and for 3 months after stopping XALKORI.
- >Talk to your doctor about the birth control methods that may be right for you.
- >If you or your partner becomes pregnant, tell your doctor right away.
- are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if XALKORI passes into your breast milk. You and your doctor should decide if you will take XALKORI or breastfeed. You should not do both.
Tell your doctor about the medicines you take, including prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements.
Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of them to show your doctor or pharmacist when you get a new medicine.
You should not drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit during treatment with XALKORI. It may make the amount of XALKORI in your blood increase to a harmful level.
The most common side effects of XALKORI include:
- vision problems — these problems usually happen soon after starting XALKORI. Tell your doctor right away if you have any change in vision, such as double vision, flashes of light, blurred vision, light hurting your eyes, new or increased floaters.
- swelling of your hands or feet
- feeling tired
XALKORI may cause changes in your vision or make you feel tired or dizzy. If you have these symptoms avoid driving a car, using machinery or doing anything that needs you to be alert.
These are not all of the possible side effects of XALKORI. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088).
If you are uninsured or don’t have sufficient coverage for XALKORI, call 1-877-744-5675 to talk to a counselor at the Pfizer First Resource® Program. They are available Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 8 PM ET and can help verify whether you are eligible for patient assistance.
The product information provided in this site is intended for residents of the United States. The products discussed herein may have different product labeling in different countries.
The health information contained herein is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with a healthcare provider. All decisions regarding patient care must be made with a healthcare provider, considering the unique characteristics of the patient.