Small cell carcinoma of the lung has been shown to be exquisitely responsive to chemotherapy. Unfortunately, these responses are often short in duration and long-term disease-free survival is infrequent. This review of the records of all patients with small cell carcinoma of the lung treated on protocol at The Johns Hopkins Oncology Center from 1973 to 1982 showed that 25 of 225 (11.1 percent) survived two years or longer. Patients with limited disease (20 of 94) and patients with a complete response (15 of 72) had greater two-year survival than those with extensive disease (five of 131) or partial remission (eight of 104). However, 18 of the 25 long-term survivors eventually had relapses, and relapse occurred as late as eight years after diagnosis. This study further emphasizes the impressive discrepancy between the rate and magnitude of the initial response and ultimate survival in patients with small cell carcinoma of the lung.
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