Human lung cancer is a dramatic in vivo experiment for the model of carcinogen-induced neoplasia that is well understood by both the general public and medical establishment. The neuroendocrine small cell lung cancer is the only sporadic tumor, besides pediatric retinoblastomas, that demonstrates a consistent genetic inactivation within the retinoblastoma 1 gene. The term small cell or 'oat-cell' lung cancer is believed to be a misnomer based on the histologic appearance of small, highly condensed cells that can result from crush artifacts from the bronchoscopic biopsy and fixation. Small cell lung cancer is a non-descriptive term that unites several histologically different types of lung cancer into one broad group that constitutes approximately 80% of all cases of lung cancer in the US The most tangible therapeutic option for lung cancer involves controlling the exposure of the general population to tobacco smoke. The concept of 'dominant' cancer genes arose from early studies on viral tumorigenesis and DNA transfection experiments into rodent cells.