The optimal treatment approaches for stage I small cell lung cancer

Amy C. Moreno, Steven H. Lin


Although small cell lung cancer (SCLC) represents less than one-sixth of all lung cancer cases, it is an aggressive disease with a high metastatic potential to various sites including the brain. Most landmark trials assessing individual therapy benefits for SCLC dichotomized patients as having either limited or extensive disease. Over the last decade, however, there has been a clear shift towards categorizing and analyzing survival patterns using a more thorough staging system that accounts for tumor size and the degree of nodal or metastatic disease burden. For the 5% of patients who present with clinical stage I (cT1–2aN0M0) SCLC, extrapolating treatment recommendations from a rather heterogeneous population that constitutes limited disease SCLC remains controversial and has led to numerous investigations of alternative therapies such as stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) for the management of this highly select group of patients. Given the changing landscape of multimodal therapy, this review will summarize relevant data pertaining to and outline optimal treatment algorithms for stage I SCLC, with a particular focus on SBRT as a primary mode of local therapy.