Small cell lung cancer: past, present, and future

Curr Oncol Rep. 2010 Sep;12(5):327-34. doi: 10.1007/s11912-010-0120-5.


Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for about 10% to 15% of all lung cancers. It is characterized by its rapid doubling time, high rate of dissemination, and increased sensitivity to chemotherapy and radiation. Although the incidence of SCLC has been steadily decreasing over time, it remains a serious public health problem given its aggressive clinical behavior and the lack of effective therapies. This review looks at the evolution of SCLC treatment and the standard treatments that are currently available, including platinum-based combination chemotherapy, hyperfractionated thoracic radiation, and prophylactic cranial irradiation. The development of novel therapies for SCLC has been lagging behind, but completed clinical trials and ongoing investigations are helping us define what will be the best therapeutic targets for this disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cranial Irradiation*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma / therapy*