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We evaluated the long-term outcome of 148 patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) who had been entered into clinical trials of chemotherapy with or without thoracic and prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) between 1981 and 1987. Eighteen patients (12%) survived for 2 or more years. With a minimum follow-up of 4.5 years, 10 of the 18 patients who remained disease-free at 2 years are currently alive and free of SCLC. Seven of these 10 patients currently function as they did before diagnosis. However, three suffer from central nervous system changes of varying degrees in severity which appeared 2-3 years after PCI. Eight of the 18 patients who were disease-free at 2 years have died. Two died of isolated relapse in the brain at 3.6 and 4.2 years after initiation of chemotherapy. Five died of other malignancies while continuing their complete response to SCLC; two of non-small cell lung cancer, two of acute myelogenous leukemia, and one of hepatocellular carcinoma. Another patient died of an unrelated disease without any evidence of SCLC. A small but substantial proportion of patients who underwent intensive treatment will achieve long-term survival; however, these patients remain at higher risk for second cancers and late toxicities. Therefore, attention must be directed to defining the safest way to employ such treatment in the management of SCLC.
small cell lung cancer
Acta Medica Okayama
Okayama University Medical School
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