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Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2000 Mar;9(3):565-79.

Therapeutic advances in small cell lung cancer.

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University of Michigan Cancer Center, 1366 Cancer Center - 09221500 E. Medical Center Dr., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0922, USA.


Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is characterised by neuroendocrine differentiation, early metastatic potential and initial responsiveness to cytotoxic therapy. Unfortunately, despite recent therapeutic advances, most patients relapse and the overall five-year survival rate is only 5%. Standard treatment of SCLC consists of platinum-based combination chemotherapy, with thoracic irradiation added for patients with limited-stage disease. Several newer chemotherapeutic drugs have recently been shown to have significant activity in patients with untreated or relapsed SCLC. These agents include: the topoisomerase I inhibitors, topotecan and irinotecan; the taxanes, paclitaxel and docetaxel; the pyrimidine analogue, gemcitabine; and the vinca alkaloid, vinorelbine. Recent advances in our understanding of the molecular events involved in the pathogenesis and progression of SCLC have led to the identification of a variety of potential targets for novel therapeutic interventions. Strategies aimed at inhibiting the myriad of growth factor pathways that control the proliferation of SCLC cells, include: broad spectrum neuropeptide antagonists (e.g., substance P analogues); growth factor/receptor-specific inhibitors (e.g., anti-GRP monoclonal antibodies, bradykinin antagonist dimers); and a variety of selective protein kinase inhibitors. The importance of cell death pathways in carcinogenesis and treatment-resistance has led to several novel strategies targeting apoptotic mediators, such as bcl-2, that are frequently dysregulated in SCLC (e.g., bcl-2 antisense). Our current challenges are to further refine these promising therapeutic strategies, efficiently evaluate their activity in the clinical setting and integrate them into more effective treatment regimens to improve the overall prognosis of patients with SCLC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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