Complete spontaneous remission in a patient with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer. Case report, review of the literature, and discussion of possible biological pathways involved

Ann Oncol. 1997 Oct;8(10):1031-9. doi: 10.1023/a:1008209618128.


Spontaneous remission of cancer (SR) is defined as a complete or partial, temporary or permanent disappearance of all or at least some relevant parameters of a soundly diagnosed malignant disease without any medical treatment or with treatment that is considered inadequate to produce the resulting regression. We report the case of a 61-year-old man who presented with extensive metatastic disease five months after pneumonectomy for poorly differentiated large cell and polymorphic lung cancer. A vast metastatic tumour mass of the abdominal wall was confirmed histolologically and there was clinical and radiographic evidence of liver and lung metastases. Eight months later, the patient was operated on for a hernia, which had developed in the inguinal biopsy scar and the surgeon confirmed complete clinical SR of the abdominal wall metastases. Again five months later there was no longer any radiologic evidence of liver and lung metastases. Complete remission has persisted more than five years. Histology of the primary and of the abdominal metastases were reviewed by several independent pathologists. SR is an extremly rare event in lung cancer. This is the first documented case of clinically evident visceral metastases of a bronchiogenic adenocarcinoma developing after complete resection of the primary and then showing complete SR. The epidemiology of SR is reviewed and possible mechanisms involved in SR are discussed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Hormones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Regression, Spontaneous*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Telomerase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Cytokines
  • Hormones
  • Telomerase