Small cell carcinoma of the lung historical perspective
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Laennec first recognized lung cancer as a separate disease in 1815, in his work "Encephaloides" published in the Dictionnaire des sciences médicales. Azzopardi, in 1959, distinguished small cell lung cancer (SCLC) from anaplastic adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma and described the clinical and biological features that characterize it as a separate disease.
Important landmarks in the history of small cell carcinoma of the lung include the following:
- In 1492 Christopher Columbus received tobacco as a gift, among other things, from the Native Americans.
- In the 1500s tobacco reached Europe and its use spread to different countries.
- In 1815, Laennec recognized lung cancer as a separate disease.
- In 1926, Barnard observed that "oat-celled sarcomas of the mediastinum" were indeed lung neoplasms.
- In 1950, Doll and Hill described an association between smoking and lung cancer.
- From 1959-1962, small cell lung cancer was recognized as separate from other types of lung cancers. Azzopardi described it microscopically and named six characteristic features of it. The term "small cell carcinoma" began to become more popular among American authors, while Europeans continued to call it "oat cell carcinoma", because of the resemblance to oat grains.
- In 1962, Watson and Berg described the unique features of small cell lung cancer, and proposed that small cell lung cancer should be classified separately from other subtypes of lung cancer.
- In 1969, Green et al demonstrated a statistically significant survival benefit of cyclophosphamide in lung cancer patients.
- During the 1970's it was observed that combination therapy is superior compared with single-agent therapy.
- Due to less than 5 % survival rate at 5 years, surgery for small cell lung cancer was abandoned.
- In 1979, concurrent chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide/doxorubicin/vincristine and radiation was tested, resulting in high toxicity but 100% complete remissions and projected 80% long-term survival.
- During the 1980's, regimens built around etoposide become the treatment of choice.
- In 1981, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified small cell lung cancer into three subtypes namely, oat cell carcinoma, intermediate cell type, and combined oat cell carcinoma.
- In 1988, The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) proposed that the intermediate cell type category be eliminated, and a new category, "mixed" small/large-cell carcinoma, was added. But, because there were problems in reproductibility of all these subtypes, combined small cell lung cancer is the only subtype in the new WHO/IASLC classification.
- During 1990's, the first case of lung cancer with identified genetic abnormalities in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes.
- In 1993, the first published genome-wide analysis of a lung cancer was in a small cell lung cancer line from a 55-year-old man.
- In 1999, prophylactic cranial irradiation is recognized as q routine.
- In 2002, Etoposide/cysplatin were found to be superior to cyclophosphamide/epirubicin/vincristine 
- In 2006, the "Sonic hedgehog" pathway related to the pathogenesis of small cell lung cancer.
- In 2010, signatures of tobacco exposure were found in thousands of mutations in a small cell lung cancer genome.
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- Helin K, Holm K, Niebuhr A, Eiberg H, Tommerup N, Hougaard S; et al. (1997). "Loss of the retinoblastoma protein-related p130 protein in small cell lung carcinoma". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 94 (13): 6933–8. PMC 21262. PMID 9192669.
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- Vestergaard J, Pedersen MW, Pedersen N, Ensinger C, Tümer Z, Tommerup N; et al. (2006). "Hedgehog signaling in small-cell lung cancer: frequent in vivo but a rare event in vitro". Lung Cancer. 52 (3): 281–90. doi:10.1016/j.lungcan.2005.12.014. PMID 16616798.
- Aupérin A, Arriagada R, Pignon JP, Le Péchoux C, Gregor A, Stephens RJ; et al. (1999). "Prophylactic cranial irradiation for patients with small-cell lung cancer in complete remission. Prophylactic Cranial Irradiation Overview Collaborative Group". N Engl J Med. 341 (7): 476–84. doi:10.1056/NEJM199908123410703. PMID 10441603.
- Sundstrøm S, Bremnes RM, Kaasa S, Aasebø U, Hatlevoll R, Dahle R; et al. (2002). "Cisplatin and etoposide regimen is superior to cyclophosphamide, epirubicin, and vincristine regimen in small-cell lung cancer: results from a randomized phase III trial with 5 years' follow-up". J Clin Oncol. 20 (24): 4665–72. PMID 12488411.
- Pleasance ED, Stephens PJ, O'Meara S, McBride DJ, Meynert A, Jones D; et al. (2010). "A small-cell lung cancer genome with complex signatures of tobacco exposure". Nature. 463 (7278): 184–90. doi:10.1038/nature08629. PMC 2880489. PMID 20016488.