Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Lung Cancer Health Center

Select An Article

Small-Cell Lung Cancer

(continued)
Font Size
A
A
A

Small-Cell Lung Cancer Treatment continued...

Other drugs may be given to prevent and treat adverse effects of radiation, chemotherapy, or the cancer itself, such as nausea or vomiting. Pain medications are also important to relieve any pain due to cancer or its treatment.

Surgery

Surgery plays little, if any, role in the management of small-cell lung cancer, because almost all cancers have spread by the time they are discovered.

The exceptions are the relatively small number of people (less than 15%) whose cancer is discovered at a very early stage of the disease, when the cancer is confined to the lung without any spread to the lymph nodes. However, surgery alone is not considered curative, so chemotherapy is also given. Sometimes radiation therapy will also be needed if the cancer had spread to the nearby lymph nodes.

Other Therapy

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of high-dose X-rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation can be given from outside the body using a machine (external radiation therapy), or it can be given with the help of radiation-producing materials that are implanted inside the body (brachytherapy).

Radiation therapy can be curative (kills all cancer cells), prophylactic (reduces the risk of cancer spreading to the area to which it is given), or palliative (helps reduce suffering).

 

Next Steps

Follow-up

  • Patients who are receiving chemotherapy require close monitoring for side effects and response to therapy.
  • A blood work-up, including CBC (complete blood count), is needed prior to each cycle of chemotherapy to ensure that the bone marrow has recovered before the next dose of chemotherapy is given.
  • Kidney function is monitored, especially if the patient is taking cisplatin, as it can damage the kidneys. Also, carboplatin's dosage is based upon kidney function.
  • The patient will undergo a CT scan to assess their response to treatment
  • Other tests are performed to monitor liver function and electrolytes -- especially sodium and magnesium levels -- due to the effects of the cancer and its treatment.

Palliative and terminal care

Because small-cell lung cancer is diagnosed in most people when it is not curable, palliative care becomes important. The goal of palliative and terminal care is to manage pain and discomfort and enhance quality of life.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Broken cigarette
Do you know the myths from the facts?
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
 
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
FEATURE
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
SLIDESHOW
 
cancer fighting foods
SLIDESHOW
Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
VIDEO
 
Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
VIDEO
Pets Improve Your Health
SLIDESHOW
 
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW
Lung Cancer Surgery Options
VIDEO