Skip to content

    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

    Xray analysis
    Do you know the myths from the facts?
    chest x-ray
    Get to know them.
     
    woman taking pills
    Tips to managing them.
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
     
    Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
    SLIDESHOW
    Woman getting ct scan
    Article
     
    Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
    VIDEO
    cancer fighting foods
    Article
     
    Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
    VIDEO
    Pets Improve Your Health
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Vitamin D
    SLIDESHOW
    Lung Cancer Surgery Options
    VIDEO