, 31:960,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 19 Apr 2014

Unmet needs in squamous cell carcinoma of the lung: potential role for immunotherapy


Squamous cell carcinoma of the lung accounts for 20–30 % of non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). Despite the differences in disease characteristics between squamous and non-squamous NSCLC, both have historically been treated similarly in the clinic. Recently approved drugs have revealed differences in activity and safety profiles across histologic subtypes and have applicability in treating non-squamous, but not typically squamous, NSCLC. Exploration of immune checkpoints—co-inhibitory molecules used to regulate immune responses—has resulted in novel immunotherapies designed to interrupt signaling through the cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 or programmed cell death protein-1 pathways on lymphocytes. Modulation of these pathways can lead to restored antitumor immune responses, and preliminary evidence shows that agents targeting these pathways have activity in lung cancer, including squamous NSCLC.