Is there a role for maintenance therapy in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer?

Author(s): Cesare Gridelli, Paolo Maione, Antonio Rossi, Clorinda Schettino, Maria Anna Bareschino, Paola Claudia Sacco, Giovanni Palazzolo, Francesca Casaluce, Assunta Sgambato and Fortunato Ciardiello

Although improvements in the treatment of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer have been achieved, the prognosis remains poor for most patients. Thus, the search for new, active and safe drugs or for new strategies is warranted. Maintenance treatment with either a chemotherapeutic agent or a molecularly targeted agent after first-line chemotherapy is a very interesting strategy that has been largely investigated in past years. Maintenance treatment can consist of drugs included in the induction regimen (continuation maintenance) or other noncross-resistant agents (switch maintenance). Several Phase III randomized trials have been completed on this topic, and overall they have established the role of switch and continuation maintenance as a possible effective option versus the classic break from cytotoxic chemotherapy after a fixed course in the treatment of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer.