• Maintenance and consolidation therapy in patients with unresectable stage III/IV non-small cell lung cancer.

      Thatcher, Nick; Heighway, Jim; Department of Medical Oncology, Christie Hospital NHS Trust, Wilmslow Road, Manchester M20 4BX, United Kingdom. nick.thatcher@christie.nhs.uk (2010)
      Globally, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality. Current chemotherapy combinations for the first-line treatment of advanced disease (stage IIIB with malignant pleural effusion/stage IV) and chemoradiotherapy regimens for the treatment of unresectable locally advanced disease (stage IIIA and IIIB without malignant pleural effusion) appear to have reached an efficacy plateau. The addition of new compounds including targeted agents to standard first-line cytotoxic doublets, administered concurrently and/or as maintenance therapy in patients who have not experienced disease progression after such treatment, has been shown to improve efficacy beyond this plateau in patients with advanced disease. However, to date, such approaches have been less successful in the treatment of patients with unresectable locally advanced stage III disease. The purpose of this review is to summarize the data from recent randomized phase III studies involving agents administered as maintenance or consolidation therapy in the treatment of unresectable stage III/IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). A possible alternative approach to the use of cytotoxic or molecularly targeted agents in this setting is the administration of therapeutic anticancer vaccines, which are designed to stimulate a host immunological response against the tumor. Current data in relation to the potential of vaccine therapy for NSCLC are therefore also reviewed, with a particular focus on belagenpumatucel-L and L-BLP25 vaccines, which are currently undergoing phase III evaluation as maintenance therapies in patients with unresectable stage III/IV NSCLC who have tumor control following first-line therapy.