Small Cell Lung Cancer in Elderly Patients: A Review

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Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for approximately 13% of all lung cancer cases. Approximately 40% of those cases are diagnosed in patients older than 70 years, and this proportion continues to rise in contrast to the continued decline in incidence of SCLC among the general population. The optimal strategy to manage limited-stage SCLC involves a combined modality approach with platinum-based chemotherapy and external-beam thoracic radiation therapy. For extensive-stage disease, platinum-based combination chemotherapy is a mainstay of therapy. Elderly patients present unique challenges in terms of drug metabolism and organ reserve, which impact the outcome of therapeutic interventions. However, limited data are available to guide management decisions for SCLC in elderly patients, and therefore this article discusses recommendations for treatment.

Correspondence: Suresh Ramalingam, MD, Emory Winship Cancer Institute, 1365 Clifton Road, Suite #C-5090, Atlanta, GA 30322. E-mail: Suresh.ramalingam@emory.edu
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