Objectives: Reviewed here is the potential effectiveness of cytotoxic drugs delivered by intratumoural injection into endobronchial tumours through a bronchoscope for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer and the diagnosis of occult or obvious cancer cell metastasis to mediastinal lymph nodes.
Key findings: Intratumoural lymphatic treatment may be achieved by injection of cisplatin or other cytotoxic drugs into the malignant tissue located in the lumen of the airways or in the peribronchial structures using a needle catheter through a flexible bronchoscope. This procedure is termed endobronchial intratumoural chemotherapy and its use before systemic chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy or surgery may provide a prophylactic or therapeutic treatment for eradication of micrometastases or occult metastases that migrate to the regional lymph nodes draining the tumour area.
Conclusions: To better elucidate the mode of action of direct injection of cytotoxic drugs into tumours, we review the physiology of lymphatic drainage and sentinel lymph node function. In this light, the potential efficacy of intratumoural chemotherapy for prophylaxis and locoregional therapy of cancer metastasis via the sentinel and regional lymph nodes is indicated. Randomized multicenter clinical studies are needed to evaluate this new and safe procedure designed to improve the condition of non-small cell lung cancer patients and prolong their survival.