Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for approximately 85% of all lung cancer cases. For patients with early-stage disease, surgery followed by adjuvant chemotherapy is the optimal treatment. For patients with locally advanced disease, the standard approach is chemoradiotherapy, since it offers a small but statistically significant prolongation in survival compared with the sequential approach. It should be noted, however, that this approach is associated with significant toxicity and it only applies to patients with good performance status. For patients with metastatic disease, chemotherapy represents the cornerstone of treatment and results in a median survival of approximately 10 months. Recently, the addition of bevacizumab or cetuximab to chemotherapy doublets and the use of gefitinib and erlotinib has improved the outcome in selected patients with advanced NSCLC. Hopefully, advances in understanding the molecular biology of cancer and mechanisms of tumourigenesis will facilitate the discovery and development of novel ‘targeted agents’ and will further improve outcomes for these patients.
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