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Eur J Cancer. 2011 Sep;47 Suppl 3:S272-83. doi: 10.1016/S0959-8049(11)70173-3.

Small cell lung cancer: new clinical recommendations and current status of biomarker assessment.

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Medical Oncology Department, Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France.


Small-cell lung carcinomas (SCLC) represent 15-18% of all lung cancers. As SCLC has a high propensity for early metastatic dissemination, less than a third of patients have limited disease (T0-1N0-3M0). The new TNM classification should now be used also for SCLC. Platin- and etoposide-based chemotherapy is the cornerstone treatment. Response rates to both chemotherapy and radiotherapy are impressive but relapses are frequent. The current state-of-the-art treatment for MO patients involves platin-etoposide-based chemotherapy, combined with early thoracic radiotherapy. Because of the high risk of brain metastases, prophylactic cranial irradiation is indicated in responders and should be part of the standard management. The 5-year survival rate may reach 25% in MO patients, but does not exceed 10% at 2 years in metastatic patients. Most patients relapse within the first two years, and there are few treatment options in second line as opposed to NSCLC. Many issues are subject for further clinical research such as the biology of this disease to better identify pathways that could be targeted with new drugs, optimisation of systemic treatments and radiotherapy. Pursuing clinical trials at all stages constitutes a challenge for thoracic researchers and oncologists.

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