Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) represents 15% of all lung cancers and it is clinically the most aggressive type, being characterized by a tendency for early metastasis, with two-thirds of the patients diagnosed with an extensive stage (ES) disease and a five-year overall survival (OS) as low as 5%. There are still no effective targeted therapies in SCLC despite improved understanding of the molecular steps leading to SCLC development and progression these last years. After four decades, the only modest improvement in OS of patients suffering from ES-SCLC has recently been shown in a trial combining atezolizumab, an anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, with carboplatin and etoposide, chemotherapy agents. This highlights the need to pursue research efforts in this field. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a non-receptor protein tyrosine kinase that is overexpressed and activated in several cancers, including SCLC, and contributing to cancer progression and metastasis through its important role in cell proliferation, survival, adhesion, spreading, migration, and invasion. FAK also plays a role in tumor immune evasion, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, DNA damage repair, radioresistance, and regulation of cancer stem cells. FAK is of particular interest in SCLC, being known for its aggressiveness. The inhibition of FAK in SCLC cell lines demonstrated significative decrease in cell proliferation, invasion, and migration, and induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. In this review, we will focus on the role of FAK in cancer cells and their microenvironment, and its potential as a therapeutic target in SCLC.
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