Lung carcinoma is the leading cause of carcinoma death in the world. Despite recent advances in understanding the molecular biology of lung cancer and the introduction of new therapeutic agents for its treatment, its dismal 5-year survival rate has not changed substantially. Clinical approaches have not significantly improved the survival of patients with advanced lung cancer. However, recent discoveries about the molecular mechanisms responsible for lung cancer initiation and proliferation have unveiled new targets for therapy. One of the hallmark features of cancer cells is their ability to evade programmed cell death or apoptosis. Alterations in pro- and anti-apoptotic pathways are common in cancer cells and defects in regulation of apoptosis have been implicated in both lung tumorigenesis and drug resistance. Thus, targeting apoptosis through the direct or indirect manipulation of the pro-apoptotic machinery offers a novel strategy for treatment. This mini review summaries the molecular events that contribute to drug-induced apoptosis and how lung tumors evade apoptotic death followed by an analysis of the implications for treatment.
Keywords: Apoptosis, lung cancer, signaling pathways, therapy
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