Symptoms and Signs of Stage IV Lung Cancer With ALK Rearrangement

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Stage IV Lung Cancer With ALK Rearrangement

Stage IV lung cancer is metastatic lung cancer that has spread to other organs; ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) refers to a rearrangement of genes to form a fusion gene in the lung cancer cells that become ALK positive tumors (produce ALK) that are very sensitive to drug therapy (slows cancer cell’s growth and division). Signs and symptoms for this advanced lung cancer are the same as for other non-small cell stage IV cancers as follows: cough (with occasional blood), difficulty breathing, chest pain, hoarseness, swallowing problems, headaches, weight loss, bone pain and seizures. ALK rearrangement has no signs or symptoms but is found with genetic testing of lung cancers; treatment of stage IV lung cancer with special drugs that target ALK may increase the patient’s lifespan.

The precise cause of stage IV lung cancer with ALK rearrangement is not known but both genetic and environmental factors like asbestos exposure have been associated with lung cancers. ALK genetic rearrangements are found in about 3-7% of lung cancers, usually in younger individuals.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.