There are different types of treatment for patients with small cell lung cancer.
Different types of treatment are available for patients with small cell lung
cancer. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some
are being tested in clinical trials. Before starting treatment, patients may
want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. A treatment clinical trial
is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain
information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials
show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new
treatment may become the standard treatment.
In its early stages, lung cancer normally has no symptoms. When symptoms start to appear, they are usually caused by blocked breathing passages or the spread of cancer further into the lung, surrounding structures, other parts of the body.
Lung cancer symptoms may include:
Chronic, hacking, raspy coughing, sometimes with blood-streaked mucus
Recurring respiratory infections, including bronchitis or pneumonia
Increasing shortness of breath, wheezing, persistent chest pain
Clinical trials are taking place in many parts of the country. Information
about ongoing clinical trials is available from NCI Web site. Choosing the most
appropriate cancer treatment is a decision that ideally involves the patient,
family, and health care team.
Three types of standard treatment are used:
Surgery may be used if the cancer is found in one lung and in nearby lymph
nodes only. Because this type of lung cancer is usually found in both lungs,
surgery alone is not often used. Occasionally, surgery may be used to help
determine the patient’s exact type of lung cancer. During surgery, the doctor
will also remove lymph nodes to see if they contain cancer. Laser therapy (the
use of an intensely powerful beam of light to kill cancer cells) may be
Even if the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of
the operation, some patients may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy
after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left. Treatment given after the
surgery, to increase the chances of a cure, is called adjuvant therapy.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of
cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from
dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or
muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout
the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the
spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly
affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). The way the
chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being