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Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2011 Apr;11(4):631-7. doi: 10.1586/era.11.7.

Second-line therapy for small-cell lung cancer.

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Aerzteforum Seestrasse, Medizinisches Versorgungszentrum, Hematology, Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Seestrasse 64, 13347 Berlin, Germany.


Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) recurs in the majority of patients, even though most patients respond to first-line therapy. Therefore second-line therapy is considered in almost all patients with SCLC in the course of disease. Efficacy of second-line chemotherapy is much lower than that of first-line treatment, but it can provide significant palliation and prolongation of survival for many patients. Patients receiving second-line therapy are divided into relapsed and refractory patients. Relapsed disease is defined as relapse or progression at least 3 months after the end of first-line therapy. All other situations, including a treatment-free interval <3 months or no response to first-line therapy, are termed refractory disease. The benefit from second-line chemotherapy is highest in patients with relapsed disease. Topotecan monotherapy improves survival and quality of life, as well as cancer-related symptoms in the second-line setting. Alternatively, doxorubicin-based combination therapy can be administered with a similar outcome but a slightly lower rate of symptom control. In refractory patients no standard therapy exists. Amrubicin, a novel anthracyline, showed promising activity in refractory and relapsed patients. Phase III trials are ongoing. Other agents with activity include irinotecan, paclitaxel, docetaxel, gemcitabine, bendamustine and vinorelbine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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