Chemotherapy advances in small-cell lung cancer
Although chemotherapeutic advances have recently been heralded in lung adenocarcinomas, such success with small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) has been ominously absent. Indeed, the dismal outlook of this disease is exemplified by the failure of any significant advances in first line therapy since the introduction of the current standard platinum-etoposide doublet over 30 years ago. Moreover, such sluggish progress is compounded by the dearth of FDA-approved agents for patients with relapsed disease. However, over the past decade, novel formulations of drug classes commonly used in SCLC (e.g. topoisomerase inhibitors, anthracyclines, alkylating and platinum agents) are emerging as potential alternatives that could effectively add to the armamentarium of agents currently at our disposal. This review is introduced with an overview on the historical development of chemotherapeutic regimens used in this disease and followed by the recent encouraging advances witnessed in clinical trials with drugs such as amrubicin and belotecan which are forging new horizons for future treatment algorithms.