Small cell lung cancer (SCLC): no treatment advances in recent years
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive malignancy with a distinct natural history and dismal prognosis. Given its predisposition for early dissemination, patients are commonly diagnosed with metastatic disease and chemotherapy is regarded as the cornerstone of approved treatment strategies. However, over the last 30 years there has been a distinct paucity of significant breakthroughs in SCLC therapy. Thus, SCLC is characterized as a recalcitrant neoplasm with limited therapeutic options. By employing well-established research approaches, proven to be efficacious in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), a growing amount of data has shed light on the molecular biology of SCLC and enhanced our knowledge of the “drivers” of tumor cell survival and proliferation. New therapeutic targets have emerged, but no significant improvement in patients’ survival has been demonstrated thus far. In a sense, the more we know, the more we fail. Nowadays this is starting to change and methodical research efforts are underway. It is anticipated that the next decade will see a revolution in the treatment of SCLC patients with the application of effective precision medicine and immunotherapy strategies.