Small cell lung cancer looks like oats under the microscope. It begins in the bronchi; and then quickly grows and spreads to other parts of the body; including the lymph nodes. Small cell lung cancer occurs as less than 20% of all lung cancers; and is typically caused by tobacco smoking. Small cell lung cancer is typically found in both lungs. The treatment regimen usually dictates surgery followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Laser therapy, which uses a laser beam to kill cancer cells, is often used to treat small cell lung cancer (SCLC) as well.
Some symptoms of SCLC may include coughing up blood or rust – colored sputum, loss of apetite, fatigue, and recurring infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. In SCLC, cancer cells are usually only found in one of the lungs of the patient. If the cancer spreads to both of the lungs it is known as extensive SCLC. SCLC has shrunk from 25% to 13% of all lung cancers, since many people have stopped smoking. SCLC affects the lymph nodes near the lungs and between the lungs of the patient. SCLC most commonly have metastatic disease by the time of its diagnosis. The pharmaceuticals the SCLC patients receive are Cisplatin and Etoposide. Adding radiation to chemotherapy will lower the risk of lung relapse by 25 to 30% and increase the survival rate by 5 to 7%. Radiation dose to the lung can be twice a day or daily. The general survival time of limited stage SCLC is less than 2 years; and the survival time is less than a year for extensive SCLC patients.