Advanced small cell lung cancer (SCLC): new challenges and new expectations
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) remains one of the most lethal malignancies and a major health riddle. The therapeutic options are limited. The combination of etoposide or irinotecan with platinum chemotherapy is the standard of care at any stage. The last decade systemic efforts have been done to reveal specific therapeutic targets for small cell lung carcinomas. In this review, we focus on the new therapeutic strategies of SCLC, including immune-related treatment that may change the prognosis of the disease. The main genetic mutations observed in SCLC are TP53 and RB1 mutations; however, it is well known that these molecules are not yet targetable. In recent years, research has revealed other frequent genetic alterations and activated signaling pathways that might be an effective treatment target. Loss of PTEN, activating PI3K mutations, inhibition of NOTCH pathway and aurora kinase activation are among them. Moreover, FDGFR1 amplification, activation of the Hedgehog pathway and repair-protein PARP1 seem to participate in SCLC tumorigenesis. These new findings have identified some interesting targets. Moreover, immunotherapy tries to find its place in the treatment of SCLC. Immune checkpoint inhibitors are under investigation in phase I to III clinical trials. We hope that in next years the treatment of SCLC patients will be improved with the administration of targeting therapy and the introduction of immunotherapy.