If you or a loved one has received a diagnosis of small-cell lung cancer, our comprehensive oncology team of specialists at West Cancer Center & Research Institute will work with you to formulate an individualized treatment plan utilizing the most cutting edge treatments and technology.  Our goal is also to provide resources and information to help you better understand and manage your diagnosis.

What is Small Cell Lung Cancer?

These cancer cells are very small, start in the breathing tubes (bronchi) and can grow and spread rapidly (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Only a small percentage (15%) of lung cancer patients have small cell lung cancer. This form of lung cancer is often symptom free and hard to discover in its earliest stages.

Stages of Small Cell Lung Cancer

Limited-Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer

In limited-stage, cancer is in the lung where it started and may have spread to the area between the lungs or to the lymph nodes above the collarbone.

Extensive-Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer

In extensive-stage, cancer has spread beyond the lung or the area between the lungs or the lymph nodes above the collarbone to other places in the body.

Symptoms of Small Cell Lung Cancer

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we urge you to speak to your provider as soon as possible for further examination.

  • Hoarseness
  • Headache
  • Bone pain
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Cough that won’t go away

How to Diagnose Small Cell Lung Cancer

If your provider would like to further investigate the possibility of small cell lung cancer, one or more of the following diagnostic procedures may be performed:


Although PET scans are more commonly used to detect if lung cancer has spread to the bones, radioactive tracers can be injected into your vein to detect injured areas affected by cancer.


A small scope (bronchoscope) with a light and camera is inserted down your throat to exam your lungs to look for abnormalities.


A donut-shaped piece of equipment uses low dose radiation, either with or without a contrast fluid to detect abnormalities in the lungs.


A small endoscope is connected to an ultrasound and a needle biopsy of the lymph nodes can be taken with an oral approach through your trachea.


Fine Needle Biopsy with ultrasound guidance, tissue samples are taken from the suspicious mass or skin thickening through a thin, hollow needle and sent to pathology.


Provides detailed images of the lungs using magnetic fields to identify any abnormalities that may be cancer.


Electromagnetic navigation is combined with a bronchoscope to find tumors and take biopsies.


A radioactive substance is injected into your bloodstream to collect in cancerous cells and identify the exact location of your cancer.


A surgical or open biopsy involves removing part or all of suspicious mass if the results of a needle biopsy aren’t clear.

Types of Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatments

Your small cell lung cancer treatment plan will vary depending on multiple factors including, but not limited to, your stage of diagnosis, as well as the location of your cancer. Your dedicated team of cancer experts will discuss your treatment options and plan with you, allowing you and your loved ones to consider all possible treatment options for your diagnosis.


Chemotherapy and other medications can be an effective way to control your cancer and relieve your symptoms.


Ask your physician if a clinical trial might be an option for your specific cancer.


This minimally invasive surgical approach guides your surgeon with a tiny camera (thoracoscope) and surgical instruments to remove your cancer through a small incision in your chest wall.


Radiation therapy is the use of high energy beams to kill cancer cells.  With some sarcomas, radiation is given before or after surgery to help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.  Radiation therapy can also be used to relieve symptoms from cancer.

IMAGE-RADIATION RADIATION THERAPY (IGRT): image-guided radiation therapy

INTENSITY-MODULATED RADIATION THERAPY (IMRT): a highly focused radiation therapy that reduces your treatment time with a 360-degree rotation around your body with a linear accelerator to target your disease with speed and precision.

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