Small-cell lung cancer: Clinical management and unmet needs new perspectives for an old problem

Giuseppe Lo Russo, Marianna Macerelli, Marco Platania, Nicoletta Zilembo, Milena Vitali, Diego Signorelli, Claudia Proto, Monica Ganzinelli, Rosaria Gallucci, Francesco Agustoni, Gianpiero Fasola, Filippo de Braud, Marina Chiara Garassino

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Small cell lung cancer is a highly aggressive, difficult to treat neoplasm. Among all lung tumors, small cell lung cancers account for about 20%. Patients typically include heavy smokers in 70s age group, presenting with symptoms such as intrathoracic tumors growth, distant spread or paraneoplastic syndromes at the time of diagnosis. A useful and functional classification divides small cell lung cancers into limited disease and extensive disease. Concurrent chemo-radiotherapy is the standard treatment for limited disease, with improved survival when combined with prophylactic cranial irradiation. Platinum compounds (cisplatin/carboplatin) plus etoposide remain the cornerstone for extensive disease. Nevertheless, despite high chemoand radio-sensitivity of this cancer, nearly all patients relapse within the first two years and the prognosis is extremely poor. A deeper understanding about small cell lung cancer carcinogenesis led to develop and test a considerable number of new and targeted agents but the results are currently weak or insufficient. To date, small cell lung cancer is still a challenge for researchers. In this review, key aspects of small cell lung cancer management and controversial points of standard and new treatments will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-362
Number of pages22
JournalCurrent Drug Targets
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Management
  • Radiotherapy
  • Small cell lung cancer
  • Target therapies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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