Stages of Small-Cell Lung Cancer
After small cell lung cancer has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the chest or to other parts of the body.
The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the chest or to
other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the
staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know
the stage in order to plan treatment. The following tests and procedures may be
used in the staging process:
- Bone marrow biopsy: The removal of a small piece
of bone and bone marrow by inserting a needle into the hipbone or breastbone. A
pathologist views both the bone and the bone marrow samples under a microscope
to look for signs of cancer.
- CT scan (CAT scan) of brain, chest, and abdomen:
A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body,
taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an
x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the
organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed
tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure
that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed
pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear
magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).
- Radionuclide bone scan: A procedure to check if
there are rapidly dividing cells, such as cancer cells, in the bone. A very
small amount of radioactive material is injected into a vein and travels
through the bloodstream. The radioactive material collects in the bones and is
detected by a scanner.
- PET scan (positron emission tomography scan): A
procedure to find malignant tumor cells in the body. A small amount of
radionuclide glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein. The PET scanner rotates
around the body and makes a picture of where glucose is being used in the body.
Malignant tumor cells show up brighter in the picture because they are more
active and take up more glucose than normal cells.
PET (positron emission tomography) scan.
The patient lies on a table that slides through the PET machine. The head rest
and white strap help the patient lie still. A small amount of radioactive
glucose (sugar) is injected into the patient's vein, and a scanner makes a
picture of where the glucose is being used in the body. Cancer cells show up
brighter in the picture because they take up more glucose than normal cells
The following stages are used for small cell lung cancer:
Limited-Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer
In limited-stage, cancer is found in one lung, the tissues between the
lungs, and nearby lymph nodes only.
Cell Lung Cancer
In extensive-stage, cancer has spread outside of the lung in which it began
or to other parts of the body.