The incidence of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is declining in the United States (US). SCLC is nearly universally smoking-related and is very sensitive to both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In contrast to non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), SCLC is staged as either limited-stage disease (LD) or extensive-stage disease (ED). Chemotherapy remains the essential component for treatment of all patients with SCLC, regardless of stage or performance status. In LD, the addition of radiation therapy improves survival over chemotherapy alone. However, the dose, timing and schedule of radiation are not well defined. Prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) reduces brain relapse rates, and modestly improves survival in patients in a clinical remission. Many chemotherapy agents and combinations result in high response rates in ED SCLC; however, median survival time remains 8-10 months. Cisplatin (or carboplatin) and etoposide is the standard doublet used in the United States. One study has shown cisplatin plus irinotecan to have a survival benefit over cisplatin plus etoposide, but confirmatory studies are needed. Patients with ED frequently relapse, and relapsed/refractory SCLC has a poor prognosis. The challenge remains to identify novel therapies and molecular targets to improve survival in SCLC.
- Prophylactic cranial irradiation
- Small cell lung cancer
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research