Small cell lung cancer: treatment review

Respirology. 2006 May;11(3):241-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1843.2006.00850.x.


Lung cancer was relatively uncommon at the turn of the 20th century, and has increased in prevalence at alarming rates, particularly because of the augmented trend in smoking, so that it is now the most common cause of cancer death in the world. As almost a quarter of these cancers are of small cell in origin, it seems only appropriate that small cell lung cancer receives ample attention, rather than seemingly to have been overlooked over the last 10-15 years. Despite its generally late presentation and high risk of dissemination, it is exceptionally sensitive to chemo-radiotherapy. This review looks at the diverse options of treatment that have been used over the last few years and tries to highlight the best available. As more than 50% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer are over 70 years of age and various studies have shown that older people respond just as well as their younger counterparts, with similar results in response rates, toxicity and outcomes, it is imperative that the older generation are not disregarded in terms of age being a contraindication to therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Pneumonectomy*
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents