The lungs are common sites of involvement by primary and metastatic malignant disease. Patients with malignancies in the lung have limited treatment options and are usually not curable. Numerous investigators have studied the potential of delivering various therapeutic agents directly to the lungs and pulmonary lymphatics by nebulization. Most of the research involves the use of immunomodulatory strategies; a few aerosol studies of chemotherapy and gene therapy have also been conducted. Most of these studies have been conducted in animal models. A few human trials have also been completed. Results suggest that aerosol therapies have the potential to shrink pulmonary metastases of selected histologies, and that survival in selected patients with metastatic renal cell cancer may be prolonged. The approach to therapy of cancer in the lungs holds promise as a means to avoid systemic toxicity and obtain an improved therapeutic effect. Research is currently underway to address issues of local versus systemic toxicity, optimal drug delivery and selection of optimal drugs and schedules including outpatient aerosol therapy. Future issues in design of aerosol cancer treatment include identifying effective combinations of agents, schedules, and use of aerosol therapy at home as adjuvant therapy.
Keywords: aerosol therapy, malignancy, metastatic malignant disease, pulmonary lymphatics
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