Current Treatments for Surgically Resectable, Limited‐Stage, and Extensive‐Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer

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AbstractThe prevalence of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) has declined in the U.S. as the prevalence of tobacco use has declined. However, a significant number of people in the U.S. are current or former smokers and are at risk of developing SCLC. Routine histological or cytological evaluation can reliably make the diagnosis of SCLC, and immunohistochemistry stains (thyroid transcription factor‐1, chromogranin, synaptophysin, and CD56) can be used if there is uncertainty about the diagnosis. Rarely do patients present with SCLC amendable to surgical resection, and evaluation requires a meticulous workup for extra‐thoracic metastases and invasive staging of the mediastinum. Resected patients require adjuvant chemotherapy and/or thoracic radiation therapy (TRT), and prophylactic cranial radiation (PCI) should be considered depending on the stage. For limited‐stage disease, concurrent platinum‐etoposide and TRT followed by PCI is the standard. Thoracic radiation therapy should be started early in treatment, and can be given twice daily to 45 Gy or once daily to 60–70 Gy. For extensive‐stage disease, platinum‐etoposide remains the standard first‐line therapy, and the standard second‐line therapy is topotecan. Preliminary studies have demonstrated the activity of immunotherapy, and the response rate is approximately 10–30% with some durable responses observed. Rovalpituzumab tesirine, an antibody drug conjugate, has shown promising activity in patients with high delta‐like protein 3 tumor expression (approximately 70% of patients with SCLC). The emergence of these and other promising agents has rekindled interest in drug development in SCLC. Several ongoing trials are investigating novel agents in the first‐line, maintenance, and second‐line settings.Implications for Practice.This review will provide an update on the standard therapies for surgically resected limited‐stage small cell lung cancer and extensive‐stage small cell lung cancer that have been investigated in recent clinical trials.

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