The 5-year survival rates for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) ranges from 9% to 61% following resection, depending on clinical stage; survival rates post-surgery (pathologic stage) range from 25% to 67%. Most stage I and II patients eventually experience recurrent disease: two thirds occur systemically, one third locally. Surgical resection remains the standard of care in early stage NSCLC, although the role of surgery in stage IIIA [N 2] disease is controversial. Despite resection, the vast majority of lung cancer patients will experience recurrent and/or metastatic disease; therefore, supplementing surgery with adjuvant therapy is a rational treatment strategy. Recent data indicate that adjuvant chemotherapy should now be considered the standard of care for the treatment of patients with completely resected early stage NSCLC, with the single exception of patients with stage IA disease, where the prognosis is relatively favorable and there is currently no evidence supporting the efficacy of adjuvant therapy. While recent data from trials of adjuvant chemotherapy have shown promising results, no study has yet compared the utility of adjuvant versus neoadjuvant, or induction, chemotherapy. From the current data, more than 90% of patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy undergo the planned surgical resection. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy may also downstage the disease before surgery and decrease perioperative tumor seeding, and molecularly targeted approaches with neoadjuvant therapy appear promising.
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