Lung cancer chemoprevention

Semin Surg Oncol. 2000 Mar;18(2):100-5. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1098-2388(200003)18:2<100::aid-ssu3>;2-9.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The persisting grim lung cancer incidence and mortality figures argue powerfully for new approaches such as chemoprevention for controlling this disease. Retinoids are among the most intensively studied cancer chemoprevention agents, including in the lung. Several randomized clinical or translational chemoprevention trials (e.g., of retinoids, beta-carotene, or combined folic acid and vitamin B(12)) have been conducted in lung pre-malignancy. Retinoid studies have produced important data on molecular/cellular markers of lung carcinogenesis, e.g., loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at 3p and 9p and retinoic acid receptor-beta (RAR-beta). Two large randomized trials with a lung cancer endpoint, the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene (ATBC) Prevention Study and the Beta-Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial (CARET), found that beta-carotene (+/- retinol) was harmful (in smokers). Recently completed lung-second-primary-tumor-prevention trials include the retinoids retinyl palmitate and 13-cis-retinoic acid (13cRA) and N-acetylcysteine (NAC). Vitamin E and selenium show promise for lung cancer prevention, based on positive secondary/subset analyses of three large-scale, randomized National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer prevention trials. Future directions of lung cancer chemoprevention include the study of molecular markers of risk and drug activity, molecular targeting study, improved imaging techniques (e.g., molecular imaging) and new drug delivery systems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Retinoids / therapeutic use
  • Selenium / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Retinoids
  • Vitamin E
  • Selenium