Despite surgical resection, patients with early-stage (I to IIIA) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are at considerable risk of recurrence and death from their lung cancer. In recent years, multiple, large, randomized trials assessing the efficacy of adjuvant chemotherapy for resected NSCLC have been reported. Three of 6 trials with 300 or more patients with early-stage NSCLC have demonstrated that adjuvant cisplatin-based chemotherapy can significantly improve 5-year survival in carefully selected patients with resected NSCLC. These benefits have been confirmed in a meta-analysis of modern cisplatin-based adjuvant trials. The most consistent benefit has been reported in patients with resected stage II and IIIA NSCLC. The benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy in patients with resected stage IB NSCLC is less concrete. Herein, we review the results of the major adjuvant chemotherapy trials and their implications for the treatment of patients with completely resected NSCLC. A future challenge will be to identify the subsets of patients who will derive the greatest benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. Current trials are also underway to define the role of novel targeted therapies, such as inhibitors of the epidermal growth factor receptor and monoclonal antibodies, in adjuvant treatment strategies.
Copyright © 2012 The American Association for Thoracic Surgery. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.