Bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (BAC) and adenocarcinoma with bronchioloalveolar features (ADC-WBF) belong to the same anatomo-clinical entity and show very similar epidemiologic, clinical and biological characteristics. However there is a lack of consensus for the treatment of unresectable forms. Although epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors and paclitaxel do have some efficacy, the aim of this review is to assess the role that pemetrexed, a new generation antifolate, could play in this context. Pemetrexed has proved to be particularly effective in advanced lung adenocarcinomas and unresectable mesotheliomas, and cases of major and sustained responses of ADCWBF to pemetrexed have been reported. The preclinical rationale explaining this efficacy is that it inhibits the growth of BAC cell lines in vitro. BAC tumors overexpress FR-α, a protein involved in pemetrexed intracellular transport, at rates higher than those observed in lung adenocarcinomas and mesotheliomas and it would seem that pemetrexed efficacy is correlated to FR-α expression. The role played by thymidylate synthase expression level in sensitivity to pemetrexed also needs to be specifically explored in ADC-WBF. The results of two phase II trials, SWOG 0526 and IFCT 05-04, will hopefully provide decisive information on the relevance of pemetrexed in ADC-WBF management and the molecular predictors of response.
Keywords: Lung cancer, adenocarcinoma, bronchioloalveolar carcinoma, pemetrexed, paclitaxel, erlotinib, chemotherapy
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