Lung cancer represents a major global health problem, with more than a million deaths reported each year. Because there are no effective screening tools to date, diagnosis of the disease at an advanced stage is a common feature. Over the past 20 years, elegant strides have been made in the treatment of patients with advanced NSCLC. Several novel chemotherapy agents that are efficacious and possess favorable toxicity profiles have been developed recently. In addition to evaluating novel combinations, alternative schedules to improve toxicity profiles are subjects of clinical trials. Much work needs to be done, however, to improve the outcome for patients with lung cancer. Chemotherapy extends life and improves quality of life for patients with stage IIIB/IV NSCLC. Combined modality therapy with radiation and chemotherapy improves the outcome for patients with locally advanced NSCLC and is associated with a curative potential. Molecularly targeted therapies are under rigorous evaluation, although the initial results have been disappointing. In the upcoming years, we will learn effective means to incorporate molecularly targeted therapies to existing treatment paradigms in lung cancer.
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