Johal, S., Hettle, R., Carroll, J., Maguire, P. & Wynne, T. Real-world treatment patterns and outcomes in small-cell lung cancer: a systematic literature review. Journal of thoracic disease 13, 3692-3707, doi:10.21037/jtd-20-3034 (2021).


Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for 12–15% of lung cancers and is associated with poor survival outcomes and high symptom burden. This study employed a broad, systematic search strategy and timeframe to identify evidence on real-world treatment patterns and outcomes for SCLC outside the USA, including understanding sub-populations such as extensive-stage (ES) or limited-stage (LS) disease.



Databases (MEDLINE, Embase, and EBM reviews) were searched for journal articles published in the English language between 1 January 2000–1 March 2020 and supplemented by hand searching of conference abstracts and posters presented at conferences between 1 January 2016–1 March 2020 reporting real-world treatment outcomes in patients with SCLC. A targeted clinical guideline review was also completed.



One-hundred studies provided quantitative data; 57 were available as full-text articles, whilst the remaining 43 were presented as abstracts or posters. The majority (80 studies, 80%) of included studies reported treatment in the first-line setting, where platinum-based chemotherapy and chemoradiotherapy was the most commonly used treatment strategy, in line with current treatment guidelines in SCLC. First-line treatments were found to have a high response rate; however, most patients relapsed early. No studies reported treatment or outcomes with immune-oncology therapies. Second-line treatment options were very limited, and primarily consisted of either re-treatment with first-line regimen or topotecan, but the prognosis for these patients remained poor. Outcomes were particularly poor amongst those with ES or relapsed disease vs. LS disease.



SCLC treatment patterns and short survival outcomes have remained constant over the previous 20 years. Due to the search timeframe, none of the studies identified reported on the impact of recently approved immune-oncology therapies in SCLC. Further data is needed on the impact of immunotherapies on treatment patterns and real-world outcomes in SCLC.