Introduction: Lung cancer is the commonest fatal malignancy in the developed world. Survival rates for lung cancer have not changed significantly over the past 30 years. Sources of data This report is a systematic review of the literature on our current understanding of lung cancer biology. Searches were carried out using PUBMED. 1990-2010.
Areas of agreement: A concerted effort to reduce cigarette smoking and nicotine addiction is required. A better understanding of the biology of lung cancer will lead to the identification of earlier diagnostic markers and improved therapy.
Areas of controversy: How chronic inflammatory disorders such as COPD and lung fibrosis contribute to lung cancer development is incompletely understood.
Growing points: Developing novel biological agents to target lung cancer. New microarray-based technologies provide new methods for predicting prognosis and response to treatment.
Areas timely for developing research: Developing strategies to target lung cancer stem cells may provide a novel approach for treating drug resistant disease.