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. 2018 Oct;18(10):1041-1057.
doi: 10.1080/14737140.2018.1500180. Epub 2018 Jul 23.

Anticancer Therapy and Lung Injury: Molecular Mechanisms

Free PMC article

Anticancer Therapy and Lung Injury: Molecular Mechanisms

Li Li et al. Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. .
Free PMC article


Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are two mainstream strategies applied in the treatment of cancer that is not operable. Patients with hematological or solid tumor malignancies substantially benefit from chemotherapeutic drugs and/or ionizing radiation delivered to the site of malignancy. However, considerable adverse effects, including lung inflammation and fibrosis, are associated with the use of these treatment modalities. Areas covered: As we move toward the era of precision health, we are compelled to understand the molecular basis of chemoradiation-induced pathological lung remodeling and to develop effective treatment strategies that mitigate the development of chronic lung disease (i.e. fibrosis) in cancer patients. The review discusses chemotherapeutic agents that are reported to induce or associate with acute and/or chronic lung injury. Expert commentary: There is a need to molecularly understand how chemotherapeutic drugs induce or associate with respiratory toxicities and whether such characteristics are inherently related to their antitumor effect or are collateral. Once such mechanisms have been identified and/or fully characterized, they may be able to guide disease-management decisions including effective intervention strategies for the adverse effects. In the meantime, radiation oncologists should be judicious on the dose of radiation delivered to the lungs, the volume of lung irradiated, and concurrent use of chemotherapeutic drugs.

Keywords: Chemotherapy; lung fibrosis; lung inflammation; pulmonary toxicity; radiation therapy.

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of interest

YT Ghebre has received funding from the National Institutes of Health and is a co-founder of Altitude Pharma. The authors have no other relevant affiliations or financial involvement with any organization or entity with a financial interest in or financial conflict with the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript apart from those disclosed.

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