Adjuvant chemotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer: Ready for clinical practice?

M. Tiseo, V. Franciosi, F. Grossi, A. Ardizzoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Radical surgery remains the only treatment with curative potential for patients with operable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, despite complete surgical resection, long-term survival is still disappointing with an average 5-year survival rate lower than 60%. Thoracic post-operative radiotherapy trials demonstrated a possible impact in reducing loco-regional recurrence but not overall survival. Moreover, the majority of post-surgical failures are represented by distant metastases, indicating a possible role for adjuvant systemic therapies. The role of adjuvant chemotherapy has now been clearly established in many solid tumors and the role of last generation platinum-based chemotherapy has now being considered as standard of care in advanced NSCLC. However, the role of adjuvant chemotherapy for completely resected NSCLC remains highly controversial. After the meta-analysis published in 1995, which showed a non-statistically significant 5% improvement in 5-year survival with second generation platinum-based adjuvant chemotherapy, several randomized clinical trials addressing the role of last generation adjuvant chemotherapy in patients with completely resected stage I, II and IIIA NSCLC have been completed with conflicting results. The available scientific evidence is reviewed and strengths/weaknesses of each trial are discussed in this article. Although most of the available evidence points to a possible survival benefit in long-term survival improvement ranging from 4% to 15%, the introduction of adjuvant chemotherapy as standard of care in the treatment of resected NSCLC is still a matter of debate. Practical issues and clinical aspects which may help clinicians in the decision making process about prescription of adjuvant treatment are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-16
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006


  • Adjuvant chemotherapy
  • Adjuvant radiotherapy
  • Non-small cell lung cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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