The malignancy of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is the highest amongst all
lung cancer types. It is characterized by rapid growth, early occurrence of distant sites
metastasis, poor survival rates and is initially sensitive to chemotherapy and
radiotherapy. However, most patients eventually relapse or disease progresses because
of chemotherapy resistance. Because of lack of effective second-line therapies, the
prognosis of SCLC patients is usually poor. For the development of novel therapies, it is
necessary to understand the mechanisms of chemotherapy resistance in SCLC. The
mechanism is complex, because multiple factors could lead to chemotherapy resistance.
An overview of multiple events triggering the formation of chemotherapy resistance
phenotypes of SCLC cells is discussed.
Keywords: Small cell lung cancer, chemotherapy resistance, multidrug resistance, intracellular enzyme system,
apoptosis escape, cell repair system, cancer stem cells.
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