Although lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. in both men and women, both the occurrence of lung cancer and the deaths related to it can be reduced. More than four out of every five cases of lung cancer are associated with cigarette smoking. The cause-and-effect relationship has been extensively documented. During the 1920s, large numbers of men began to smoke cigarettes, presumably in response to increased advertising. Twenty years later, the frequency of lung cancer in men climbed sharply. In the 1940s, significantly more women became smokers. Twenty years later, there was a similar dramatic increase in lung cancer among women.
Lung tumors almost always start in the spongy, pinkish gray walls of the bronchi -- the tubular, branching airways of the lungs. More than 20 types of malignant tumors that originate in the lung itself -- primary lung cancer -- have been identified. The major types are small-cell lung cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer. The more common non-small variety is primarily divided into squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large-cell carcinoma.
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for approximately 15% of bronchogenic carcinomas.
At the time of diagnosis, approximately 30% of patients with SCLC will have tumors confined to the hemithorax of origin, the mediastinum, or the supraclavicular lymph nodes. These patients are designated as having limited-stage disease (LD). Patients with tumors that have spread beyond the supraclavicular areas are said to have extensive-stage disease (ED).
SCLC is more responsive to chemotherapy and radiation...