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Experimental approaches to treatment for small cell lung cancer

Author
Karen Kelly, MD
Section Editors
Rogerio C Lilenbaum, MD, FACP
James R Jett, MD
Deputy Editor
Sadhna R Vora, MD

INTRODUCTION

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is distinguished from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) by its rapid doubling time, high growth fraction, and the early development of metastases. Although SCLC is highly responsive to both chemotherapy and radiotherapy (RT), it commonly relapses within months despite treatment.

Since SCLC usually presents with disseminated disease, treatment strategies have focused on systemic chemotherapy. Although this has resulted in significant improvements in survival for patients with both limited- and extensive-stage disease, the long-term prognosis remains poor.

Attempts to further improve survival with chemotherapy have included the evaluation of higher-dose therapy including bone marrow transplantation, dose-dense regimens, alternating non-cross resistant treatments and novel cytotoxic agents. However, these approaches have not resulted in major advances in the treatment of SCLC in more than twenty years. (See "Extensive stage small cell lung cancer: Initial management", section on 'Increased dose intensity'.)

Investigational approaches for the treatment of SCLC will be reviewed here. Standard approaches to chemotherapy in patients with SCLC are discussed separately. (See "Extensive stage small cell lung cancer: Initial management" and "Treatment of refractory and relapsed small cell lung cancer".)

IMMUNOTHERAPY

Multiple immunotherapy approaches have been studied in patients with SCLC and are discussed in detail elsewhere. (See "Treatment of refractory and relapsed small cell lung cancer", section on 'Immunotherapy'.)

                    

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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Tue Oct 11 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2016.
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