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Oncology (Williston Park). 1998 Jan;12(1 Suppl 2):44-50.

Small-cell lung cancer: a perspective on the past and a preview of the future.

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Allegheny Cancer Center-Pittsburgh, Allegheny University of the Health Sciences, Pennsylvania, USA.


Despite advances in the treatment of small-cell lung cancer during the 1970s, with the use of combination chemotherapy, and in the 1980s, with the combination of etoposide and cisplatin plus concurrent radiation therapy, treatment success seems to have reached a plateau in the current decade. Research should now be directed into three areas: (1) strategies to prevent the development of second cancers, one of the major causes of death in people "cured" of their first primary cancer; (2) introduction of new agents such as paclitaxel (Taxol) and other newer chemotherapeutic drugs into clinical trials, particularly in conjunction with radiation therapy in limited disease; and (3) development of new therapeutic approaches, such as the modulation of drug resistance, molecular biology interventions, and monoclonal antibody therapy, strategies that are based on increased understanding of small-cell lung cancer biology. Although it is doubtful that any single strategy will be curative, selective approaches that exploit new research findings in conjunction with moderately effective, more conventional treatments might allow us to raise remission and survival rates significantly.

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