The treatment of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is characterised by a significant level of clinical unmet need and is a disease area that has suffered from a high rate of late-stage clinical trial failure, resulting in a lack of targeted treatment options. GlobalData notes several key clinical unmet needs identified by key opinion leaders (KOLs) in eight major markets (US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, Japan and China).

Due to the asymptomatic nature and rapid course of the disease, early detection of SCLC is challenging. At the time of diagnosis, approximately 60% to 70% of SCLC patients are diagnosed with extensive-stage (ES) disease that has spread outside the chest and KOLs have highlighted the need for the development of effective and reliable screening techniques to enable early diagnosis of SCLC.

KOLs also highlight the need for more effective treatments, particularly in the relapsed/refractory settings, which can improve overall survival (OS) for patients with SCLC. KOLs interviewed by GlobalData all reported the need for more efficacious therapies that will improve the survival outcome in both the first line and subsequent lines of treatment in SCLC. They also highlighted the significant improvement derived from the introduction of immune checkpoint inhibitors into the SCLC treatment paradigm. However, the clinical benefit is marginal. The lack of effective targeted approaches is based on the limited underlying understanding of SCLC biology. Concerted R&D efforts are required to stratify SCLC by predictive biomarkers, which can reveal novel therapeutic approaches. A final unmet need is the limited therapeutic interventions for SCLC patients with brain metastases.