Small cell lung cancer: Will recent progress lead to improved outcomes?

M. Catherine Pietanza, Lauren Averett Byers, John D. Minna, Charles M. Rudin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive neuroendocrine malignancy with a unique natural history characterized by a short doubling time, high growth fraction, and early development of widespread metastases. Although a chemotherapy- and radiationsensitive disease, SCLC typically recurs rapidly after primary treatment, with only 6% of patients surviving 5 years from diagnosis. This disease has been notable for the absence of major improvements in its treatment: Nearly four decades after the introduction of a platinum etoposide doublet, therapeutic options have remained virtually unchanged, with correspondingly little improvement in survival rates. Here, we summarize specific barriers and challenges inherent to SCLC research and care that have limited progress in novel therapeutic development to date. We discuss recent progress in basic and translational research, especially in the development of mouse models, which will provide insights into the patterns of metastasis and resistance in SCLC. Opportunities in clinical research aimed at exploiting SCLC biology are reviewed, with an emphasis on ongoing trials. SCLC has been described as a recalcitrant cancer, for which there is an urgent need for accelerated progress. The NCI convened a panel of laboratory and clinical investigators interested in SCLC with a goal of defining consensus recommendations to accelerate progress in the treatment of SCLC, which we summarize here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2244-2255
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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