Changes in store for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer
The management of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has been revolutionized in recent years with the introduction of biomarker-targeted molecular therapies and immune checkpoint inhibitors. In contrast, since adjuvant chemotherapy was first established twenty years ago as the standard of care, little has changed for resected early-stage (IB-IIIA) patients for whom the potential for cure is greatest. In this manuscript we will review recently presented data as well as ongoing/planned studies in this arena. So far, investigative efforts have yielded mixed results regarding the use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in early-stage NSCLC, though a series of now better planned, biomarker-driven ongoing phase III trials may be more informative. Several innovative immunotherapy studies have already shown promising results principally in the neoadjuvant setting with a large number of pivotal neo-adjuvant and adjuvant trials now in progress. Given the more robust design and biomarker-focused approach of the new generation of studies, significant advances in the optimal curative treatment of early stage NSCLC are anticipated.