Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Curr Probl Cancer. 1991 May-Jun;15(3):105-54.

Non-small cell lung cancer. Part II: Treatment.

Author information

  • 1Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland.


Squamous, large cell, and adenocarcinoma, collectively termed non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), are diagnosed in approximately 75% of patients with lung cancer in the United States. The treatment of these three tumor cell types is approached in virtually identical fashion because, in contrast to small cell carcinoma of the lung, NSCLC more frequently presents with localized disease at the time of diagnosis and is thus more often amenable to surgical resection but less frequently responds to chemotherapy and irradiation. Cigarette smoking is etiologically related to the development of NSCLC in the great majority of cases. Genetic mutations in dominant oncogenes such as K-ras, loss of genetic material on chromosomes 3p, 11p, and 17p, and deletions or mutations in tumor suppressor genes such as rb and p53 have been documented in NSCLC tumors and tumor cell lines. NSCLC is diagnosed because of symptoms related to the primary tumor or regional or distant metastases, as an incidental finding on chest radiograph, or rarely because of a paraneoplastic syndrome such as hypercalcemia or hypertrophic pulmonary osteoarthropathy. Screening smokers with periodic chest radiographs and sputum cytologic examination has not been shown to reduce mortality. The diagnosis of NSCLC is usually established by fiberoptic bronchoscopy or percutaneous fine-needle aspiration, by biopsy of a regional or distant metastatic site, or at the time of thoracotomy. Pathologically, NSCLC arises in a setting of bronchial mucosal metaplasia and dysplasia that progressively increase over time. Squamous carcinoma more often presents as a central endobronchial lesion, while large cell and adenocarcinoma have a tendency to arise in the lung periphery and invade the pleura. Once the diagnosis is made, the extent of tumor dissemination is determined. Since most NSCLC patients who survive 5 years or longer have undergone surgical resection of their cancers, the focus of the staging process is to determine whether the patient is a candidate for thoracotomy with curative intent. The dominant prognostic factors in NSCLC are extent of tumor dissemination, ambulatory or performance status, and degree of weight loss. Stages I and II NSCLC, which are confined within the pleural reflection, are managed by surgical resection whenever possible, with approximate 5-year survival of 45% and 25%, respectively. Patients with stage IIIa cancers, in which the primary tumor has extended through the pleura or metastasized to ipsilateral or subcarinal lymph nodes, can occasionally be surgically resected but are often managed with definitive thoracic irradiation and have 5-year survival of approximately 15%.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk