March 15th 2010
Despite recent therapeutic advances, lung cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of cancer-related mortality. Of the various histologic subtypes, non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common-accounting for approximately 85% of all lung cancers-and will be the focus of this article. In general, the treatment of lung cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, systemic therapy (eg, chemotherapy with or without targeted therapy), or a combination of the above. Surgery continues to offer the best chance of long-term cure. The initial treatment of stage I and II NSCLC usually entails surgical resection, whereas stage IV disease is primarily treated with systemic agents, in light of the lack of curative potential with surgery and/or radiation therapy alone. It is locally advanced NSCLC, including stage IIIA and IIIB disease, that continues to pose a therapeutic dilemma, given its heterogeneous nature.