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Minerva Endocrinologica 2020 Dec 17

DOI: 10.23736/S0391-1977.20.03213-7


language: English

Recent advances in small cell lung cancer: the future is now?

Andrea LUCIANI , Miriam BLASI, Leonardo PROVENZANO, Sabrina ZONATO, Daris FERRARI

Medical Oncology Unit, San Paolo Hospital, Milan, Italy


Small cell lung cancer is a relevant clinical issue as it is a highly malignant cancer, often diagnosed in advanced stage. Similarly to non-small cell lung cancer, tobacco smoking is currently the main risk factor. Its incidence, at least in males, has declined over the past decades, due to the worldwide decreased percentage of active smokers. The typical small cells of this tumor type are characterized by a high proliferation index, chromosomal deletions such as 3p(14-23) involving the tumor-suppressor gene FHIT, alterations of the MYC or Notch family proteins and the frequent expression of neuroendocrine markers. The combination of thoracic radiotherapy and chemotherapy is the standard treatment for limited stage disease, while platinum-based chemotherapy is the most effective choice for extensive stage disease. Unfortunately, whatever chemotherapy is used, the results are disappointing. No regimen has proved to be effective in the long run, indeed small cell lung cancer rapidly progresses after a frequent initial strong response, and the mortality rate remains still high. The advent of immunotherapy is actually changing the landscape in oncology. As well as in other cancers, recent trials have demonstrated the efficacy of the combination of immune checkpoint inhibitors and chemotherapy, opening new perspectives for the future of our patients.

KEY WORDS: Small cell lung cancer; Chemotherapy; Immunotherapy; Immune checkpoint inhibitors

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