JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Non-small cell lung cancer

C M Haskell, E C Holmes
Disease-a-month: DM 1988, 34 (2): 53-108
2834155
Lung cancer stands as the most important malignant neoplasm in the United States because of its high prevalence, increasing incidence, high rate of mortality, and great potential for prevention through the control of cigarette smoking. The World Health Organization (WHO) classification of lung cancer identifies four major types: squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and small cell carcinoma. These tumors are commonly divided into two groups based on differences in their biology and treatment: small cell (SCLC) and non-small cell carcinomas (NSCLC). This review analyzes NSCLC with a strong emphasis on the practical aspects of treatment. We give recommendations about smoking cessation and early diagnosis through screening of high-risk individuals. We review contemporary diagnostic and staging techniques in the context of the new international TNM system of staging. Subsequent discussions of treatment are based on this new staging system. We stress the pivotal role of surgery for the management of local disease, and in addition present the potential contributions of newer radiation therapy techniques. We examine chemotherapy in detail, including a review of the comparative activity of the available cytotoxic agents against NSCLC, the relative contribution of combination chemotherapy, and the role of surgical adjuvant treatment with either chemotherapy or immunotherapy. We advise that patients with NSCLC be treated under the aegis of modern clinical trials of new therapy whenever possible. When this is not possible, we recommend an individualized approach based on such factors as the patient's age, general state of health, cardiopulmonary status, psychosocial status, and personal system of values.

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