ALK is a short name for the anaplastic lymphoma receptor tyrosine kinase gene. This test detects specific rearrangements in the ALK gene in cancer cells and tissue.
The presence of these changes makes it more likely that a person with non-small cell lung cancer will respond to a targeted drug therapy.
If the cancer tissue contains a specific ALK gene rearrangement mutation or altered ALK protein, then the affected person is likely to benefit from an ALK kinase inhibitor drug therapy such as crizotinib.
A person whose cancer does not have an ALK gene rearrangement is not likely to benefit from ALK kinase inhibitor drug therapy.
A person could have a negative test result if the tumor tissue sample is insufficient and/or when the cancer is heterogeneous (some cells contain the mutation and others do not).
Additionally, there may be rare ALK mutations that are not detected by routine testing that looks for only the most common mutations.
Keywords: ALK Gene Fusion; ALK Gene Rearrangement; ALK Mutation (Gene Rearrangement); EML4-ALK Fusion Protein