Stages of Small-Cell Lung Cancer
Tests and procedures that examine the lungs are used to detect (find) and diagnose small cell lung cancer. continued...
X-ray of the chest. X-rays are used to
take pictures of organs and bones of the chest. X-rays pass through the patient
- Physical exam and history: An exam of the body
to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such
as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health
habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
- Sputum cytology: A microscope is used to check
for cancer cells in the sputum (mucus coughed up from the lungs).
- Laboratory tests: Medical procedures that test
samples of tissue, blood, urine, or other substances in the body. These tests
help to diagnose disease, plan and check treatment, or monitor the disease over
- Bronchoscopy: A procedure to look inside the
trachea and large airways in the lung for abnormal areas. A bronchoscope (a
thin, lighted tube) is inserted through the nose or mouth into the trachea and
lungs. Tissue samples may be taken for biopsy.
Bronchoscopy. A bronchoscope is inserted through
the mouth, trachea, and major bronchi into the lung, to look for abnormal
areas. A bronchoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens
for viewing. It may also have a cutting tool. Tissue samples may be taken to be
checked under a microscope for signs of disease.
- Fine needle aspiration biopsy: The removal of part of a lump, suspicious
tissue, or fluid, using a thin needle. A pathologist views the tissue or fluid
under a microscope to look for cancer cells. This procedure is also called a
- Thoracentesis: Removal of fluid from the pleural
cavity (the space between the lungs and chest wall) through a needle inserted
between the ribs.
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the
- The stage of the cancer (whether it is in the
chest cavity only or has spread to other places in the body).
- The patient’s gender and general health.
- The blood level of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH),
a substance found in the blood that may indicate cancer when the level is
higher than normal.
For most patients with small cell lung cancer, current treatments do not cure the cancer.
If lung cancer is found, participation in one of the many clinical trials
being done to improve treatment should be considered. Clinical trials are
taking place in most parts of the country for patients with all stages of small
cell lung cancer. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from
NCI Web site.