Molecular and cellular biology of small cell lung cancer

Semin Oncol. 2003 Feb;30(1):57-71. doi: 10.1053/sonc.2003.50019.


For any tumor to become cancerous, various genetic mutations and biologic alterations must occur in the cell that in combination render it a malignant neoplasm. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a neoplasm associated with several molecular and cellular abnormalities. SCLC is associated with early and frequent metastasis as well as a poor ultimate response to chemotherapy. New and novel therapies based on understanding the mechanisms of transformation are needed. SCLC is associated with multiple chromosomal abnormalities, the most common of which is chromosome 3p deletion, as well as with abnormal oncogenes and tumor-suppressor genes. Along with the genetic alterations, SCLC has been shown to overexpress various cell surface receptors, including receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), G-protein-coupled receptors, integrins, and others. Some downstream molecules are also activated, such as phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase, and would serve as good candidates for therapeutic strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / pathology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic* / genetics
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor / physiology
  • Growth Substances / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Oncogenes / physiology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Telomerase / metabolism


  • Growth Substances
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Telomerase