This review summarizes the rapidly expanding knowledge of the molecular pathogenesis of lung cancer. It is clear that respiratory epithelial cells require many genetic alterations to become invasive and metastatic cancer. Much more is to be learned, but with modern technology. Clinicians can detect “field cancerized” regions and preneo-plastic and malignant cells, therefore offering the opportunity to intercede with biomarker-monitored prevention and early detection efforts. Such molecular screening and detection efforts will likely be coupled to advances in low-dose computed tomographic imaging, positron emission tomography scans, and other imaging modalities.63, 73, 175, 218 Although this molecular marker approach has great potential, there is not yet a molecular marker validated in large prospective trials that has major independent predictive prognostic value. There is an urgent need for large, adequately powered, carefully designed prospective studies to identify clinically useful new biomarkers. Finally, new therapeutic strategies with genetic manipulation, small molecules, antibodies, vaccines, and, particularly, new drugs targeting specific biologic pathways found to be abnormal in lung provide for future optimism. Researchers need to define their individual value, especially when integrated with standard therapies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine