Though tobacco smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, during the last decades the prevalence increased in never smoking patients, especially in women. Sex steroid hormones and particularly the estrogen receptors (ERs) seem to play an important but still underestimated role in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Beside long existing hints that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of lung tumors recent analyses on cell lines, xenografts and human tumors of both sexes gave clear evidence of ER expression and proliferation in NSCLC. Most recently, the expression of ERs apparently has prognostic and predictive value. Recently, an intracellular "cross-talk" between the ER and the epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR) could be demonstrated. EGFR are important targets of approved tyrosinkinases (TKIs), like gefitinib, erlotinib or afatinib. Currently, clinical studies are enrolling lung tumor patients for combination treatment with EGFR TKI and antihormonal drugs, e. g. fulvestrant.
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