AffiliationDepartment of Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA
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AbstractSmall-cell lung cancer (SCLC) represents about 15% of all lung cancers and is marked by an exceptionally high proliferative rate, strong predilection for early metastasis and poor prognosis. SCLC is strongly associated with exposure to tobacco carcinogens. Most patients have metastatic disease at diagnosis, with only one-third having earlier-stage disease that is amenable to potentially curative multimodality therapy. Genomic profiling of SCLC reveals extensive chromosomal rearrangements and a high mutation burden, almost always including functional inactivation of the tumour suppressor genes TP53 and RB1. Analyses of both human SCLC and murine models have defined subtypes of disease based on the relative expression of dominant transcriptional regulators and have also revealed substantial intratumoural heterogeneity. Aspects of this heterogeneity have been implicated in tumour evolution, metastasis and acquired therapeutic resistance. Although clinical progress in SCLC treatment has been notoriously slow, a better understanding of the biology of disease has uncovered novel vulnerabilities that might be amenable to targeted therapeutic approaches. The recent introduction of immune checkpoint blockade into the treatment of patients with SCLC is offering new hope, with a small subset of patients deriving prolonged benefit. Strategies to direct targeted therapies to those patients who are most likely to respond and to extend the durable benefit of effective antitumour immunity to a greater fraction of patients are urgently needed and are now being actively explored.
CitationRudin CM, Brambilla E, Faivre-Finn C, Sage J. Small-cell lung cancer. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2021;7(1):3.
JournalNature Reviews Disease Primers