K. Kahnert, D. Kauffmann-Guerrero, R. Huber
Sep 1, 2016
Clinical lung cancer
Worldwide, the total number of diagnosed lung cancer cases amounts to 1.8 million every year. Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for about 15% to 17% of all diagnosed lung cancers. Despite all progress made in the field of non-small-cell lung cancer, the prognosis and therapeutic options in SCLC are still limited. The resistance of SCLC to conventional therapy as well as its high recurrence rate can be attributed to the heterogeneous genetic structure of SCLC; however, a targeted therapy approach to SCLC may build on this very heterogeneous genetic structure. SCLC is by now a well-characterized cancer with various genetic alterations; for example, mutations in tumor suppressor genes TP53 and RB1, alterations in chromosome 3p, JAK2, FGFR1, and MYC genes were discovered. Based on these findings, various treatment options (eg, aurora kinase inhibitors, PARP inhibition, immune checkpoint inhibition and vaccine therapy) are currently evaluated with the goal of determining their clinical effectiveness. In this article, we review the existing knowledge of SCLC genetics and the current treatment standards and highlight new approaches of immunotherapy and other targeted therapies, which may yield new treatment options and improve the outcome of patients with SCLC.