Lung Cancer: Overview

  • Shirish M. Gadgeel
  • Gregory P. Kalemkerian


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the world and 90% of all cases are caused by tobacco smoking. Lung cancer is divided into two major histologic subtypes, non-small cell (NSCLC) and small cell (SCLC), with distinct biological behavior, genetic alterations, and therapy. Thus far, screening for lung cancer has not been proven effective since no modality has been shown to decrease mortality. Most patients with both SCLC and NSCLC present with symptoms of either locally advanced or metastatic disease, with only about 25% of patients with NSCLC having early-stage, resectable disease. For patients with stage I or II NSCLC, surgical resection is the treatment of choice and results in long-term survival in 60–80% or 40–50% of patients, respectively. For patients with stage III, locally advanced NSCLC or limited-stage SCLC, aggressive chemotherapy plus radiotherapy can offer a cure in 20–25% of patients. Stage IV, or metastatic, NSCLC and extensive-stage SCLC are incurable diseases in which chemotherapy can prolong survival and palliate symptoms. Recent advances in our understanding of the molecular biology of lung cancer have led to novel therapeutic strategies targeting relevant pathways that regulate the proliferation and/or progression of lung cancer. Several of these molecularly targeted therapies have now demonstrated significant clinical benefits in subsets of patients with lung cancer.


Lung Cancer Brain Metastasis Small Cell Lung Cancer Advanced NSCLC Superior Vena Cava 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wayne State University/Karmanos Cancer InstituteDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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