What Is Small Cell Lung Cancer?

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Cells in your body becoming abnormal and uncontrollably growing are cancer cells. Lung cancer includes these same factors. Also like other cancers, sometimes lung cancer cells form tumors and spread to other body tissues.

Small cell lung cancer is one of two types of lung cancer treated differently and offering different prognoses. The other type is non-small cell lung cancer. Oat cell cancer is another name for small cell lung cancer, with this disease affecting about ten to 15 percent of lung cancer patients.

Non-small cell lung cancer makes up the majority of the remaining lung cancer patients’ diagnoses.  These include three primary subtypes of adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

About Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small cell lung cancer is highly malignant and aggressive. It also typically involves lymph nodes near your heart and lungs early in the disease. Some treatment professionals refer to the disease as oat cell carcinoma because of the cancer’s flat cell shape and other cellular features.

Small cell lung cancer usually begins in central airways. It creates narrowing of your bronchial airways through its involvement of connective tissue beneath the mucus membranes. People with this type of cancer usually experience cough, weight loss, labored breathing and reduced activity. About two thirds of small cell lung cancer patients suffer metastatic disease with involvement of organs and tissues like the liver, bones, adrenal glands and brain. Small cell lung cancer sometimes cause major hormonal imbalances.

Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment

Small cell lung cancer features two stages. One stage is limited stage (LS), as part of which the cancer is limited to one lung and nearby lymph nodes. When the small cell lung cancer spreads beyond those areas, treatment professionals refer to it as extensive stage (ES).

Small cell lung cancer responds well to treatment using chemotherapy and radiation. But the disease frequently relapses, so it remains important throughout your lifetime to continue being evaluated for recurrence by your doctor.

Prevention of small cell lung cancer is possible, by not smoking in your lifetime. Heavy smokers make up the highest percentage of small cell lung cancer patients. If you presently smoke, quit smoking to decrease your chance of developing this particularly aggressive lung cancer. During its limited stage, small cell lung cancer patients experience a 20 percent rate of survival five years after diagnosis. Due to its aggressive nature and other tissue involvement, extensive stage small cell lung cancer provides only up to five percent chance for survival beyond five years.