All About Small Cell Carcinoma

Facts and information about the lesser known form of lung cancer.

Small cell lung cancer grows fast and spreads quickly. It is more common in men then women and accounts for only 15% of lung cancer cases that are diagnosed. This cancer is almost always caused by smoking and is extremely rare, almost unheard of to be seen in non-smokers.

What is Small Cell Lung Cancer?

Small cell carcinoma, otherwise known as oat cell cancer is made up of three different types. There is standard small cell or oat cell carcinoma, mixed small and large cell carcinoma and combined small cell carcinoma. As with most cancers the symptoms of small cell lung cancer mimic that of many other common ailments. The early symptoms of small cell carcinoma are blood tinged mucus, cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, pain in the chest, loss of appetite and loss of weight. Swelling of the face, trouble swallowing, fever, hoarseness, weakness, nail abnormalities and voices changes can all be symptoms of small cell carcinoma as well. If you are at risk for lung cancer and show any signs or symptoms you should contact your physician for a physical immediately. Test will be performed to determine whether or not your symptoms have any cancer concerns. Being open and honest with your physician will help them to determine what types of tests need to be performed and what exactly your risks might be.

Treatment of Small Cell Lung Cancer

Treatment of small cell lung cancer is based upon what stage a patients cancer is in. Small cell lung cancer does not use the traditional staging chart used for most cancers. This form of cancer is divided in to two separate categories. If small cell lung cancer is labeled as limited it means that it has not spread outside the chest and if it is labeled as extensive that means it has spread outside the chest cavity.

Small cell lung cancer spreads very rapidly, because of that chemotherapy must be used to start killing off some of the cancer cells. In some cases doctors chose to use a variety of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to treat patients with small cell lung cancer. Patients with small cell carcinoma are rarely treated with surgery and in the rare situations that they are treated with surgery they must still be treated with radiation or chemotherapy. Often patients with small cell lung cancer will also be treated with radiation therapy of the brain to prevent the possible spread of the cancer, as this is common with this form of cancer. The prognosis for patients diagnosed with small cell lung cancer is not good, small cell is typically deadly.  This type of cancer only has around a 6% over all survival rate even when aggressive treatment is being pursued. Catching this type of cancer early on in its progression is essential to a patient recovering from the illness. Treatment should begin immediately upon diagnosis of small cell lung cancer.