Table of Contents
Lung Cancer International
Volume 2011, Article ID 659807, 4 pages
Case Report

Aggressive Palliation in Extensive Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer, Practice Guidelines versus Clinical Practice: A Case Report and Review of the Literature

1Division of Radiation Oncology, Department of Radiology, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, 620 John Paul Jones Circle, Portsmouth, VA 23708, USA
2Division of Radiation Oncology, Nash General Hospital, 2460 Curtis Ellis Drive, Rocky Mount, NC 27804, USA

Received 21 January 2011; Accepted 18 March 2011

Academic Editor: Elisabeth Quoix

Copyright © 2011 Edward F. Miles et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) constitutes approximately 16% of all primary lung cancers, with more than 35,000 new cases per year. Two-thirds of patients present with extensive stage disease (ES-SCLC) due to a tendency to metastasize early. Outcomes remain poor, with a median survival of approximately 10 months and a two-year overall survival of <10%. Current recommendations call for combination chemotherapy alone in patients without localized symptoms. Thoracic radiation therapy following a good clinical response is controversial. We report on a patient with ES-SCLC that had an excellent response to chemotherapy and underwent whole brain radiotherapy for a known brain metastasis and consolidative radiotherapy to the thorax. His latest follow-up demonstrates only a stable residual pulmonary nodule and no evidence of active metastatic disease. ES-SCLC is a relatively common presentation with a variable burden of metastatic disease. In the absence of randomized trials demonstrating the efficacy of thoracic radiation therapy, the community radiation oncologist is placed in a difficult position when addressing these patients, particularly those with otherwise good performance status and a good response to initial systemic chemotherapy. More research in this area is sorely needed to help guide treatment recommendations.