Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small cell lung cancer, or small cell carcinoma, is a type of rapidly spreading lung cancer characterized by the small, almost “oat” like shape of the malignant cells affecting the lung.  Comprising about 20 percent of lung cancer cases, small cell lung cancer has an extremely high mortality rate.  There are three types of small cell lung cancer, named for shape and size of the cancer cells: small cell carcinoma, mixed small cell/large cell carcinoma and combined small cell carcinoma. In addition to being shaped differently, the three subsets of small cell lung cancer grow differently and spread at varying rates. For the best treatment options early detection is crucial in light of small cell lung cancer’s tendency to spread rapidly to other body parts and organs.

Some of the main risk factors for small cell lung cancer include family history and an exposure to asbestos, although cigarette smoke whether direct or secondhand, still contributes to by far the most new cases of lung cancer annually.  The best prevention against small cell lung cancer is to never smoke and strictly limit exposure to second hand smoke.  A few symptoms which may appear as a result of small cell lung cancer are a persistent cough, pain or tightness in the chest, unexplained weight loss and coughing blood.  However, the symptoms are not limited to this short list and will vary according to individual overall health, stage and size of the cancer growth. Being proactive in your health care and speaking to your doctor about possible risk factors you may have will enable the best diagnosis and treatment possible.

If you feel you may be at risk for lung cancer and your doctor deems testing necessary, there are a few options available to your doctor to choose from. Simple chest x-rays may first detect possible signs of small cell lung cancer which may lead to mucous testing for the presence of malignant cells or a procedure called a bronchoscopy in which tissue samples can be collected for biopsy.   Speaking with your doctor about small cell lung cancer screening and avoiding risk factors can aid in the treatment of this most fatal disease.

Latest Article: American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society was formed in 1913 by a team of 15 doctors and has grown, evolved, and helped countless people that have been diagnosed with cancer to the society we know today.  The American Cancer Society is the place that you should go to for any and all information on cancer.  They have a call center – the National Cancer Information Center - that is...

Related Articles: