Therapies in the pipeline for small-cell lung cancer

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Introduction or background

Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) represents ~15% of all cases of lung cancer and is characterized by a rapid tumour doubling time, early onset disease dissemination and high sensitivity to chemotherapy.

Sources of data

We searched MEDLINE and OVID databases for articles in English published from January 1980 to February 2015.

Areas of agreement

Platinum-based chemotherapy, thoracic radiotherapy and prophylactic cranial irradiation are standard of care. Benefit from second-line chemotherapy is limited.

Areas of controversy

The role of platinum/irinotecan chemotherapy in the Western population and the role of maintenance therapies remain to be established.

Growing points

Knowledge of the biology of SCLC has expanded exponentially and many potential therapeutic targets have been identified.

Areas timely for developing research

The use of circulating tumour cells can help investigating molecular alterations occurring within tumour cells, understanding drug resistance mechanisms and evaluating new treatments.

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