Small cell lung cancer is a lung cancer in which malignant or cancerous cells affects the tissues of the lung. Each lung has sections known as lobes. Left lung has two and right lung has three lobes. Two tubes or bronchi connect trachea to lungs. The bronchi are the part mostly affected by lung cancer.

Types of Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small cell lung cancer affect different types of cell. Each type has differently growing cells. Types are classified on the basis of the kinds of cells found in the cancer. Two types of small cell lung cancer are

  • Small cell carcinoma or oat cell cancer
  • Combined small cell carcinoma.

Causes of Small Cell Lung Cancer

Smoking is hailed as the major cause of developing small cell lung cancer. Tobacco is a major risk factor for small cell lung cancer. Though risk factors does not prove certainty of developing this disease, but they increases risk of developing this disease. People with risk factor should consult their doctor and to need to undergo check-ups to evaluate their risk of this disease. Some common risk factors for small cell lung cancer are

  • Cigarette smoking is the most common risk factor for small cell lung cancer.
  • Smoking cigars or pipes elevates risk of developing small cell lung cancer.
  • Exposure to second hand smoke also increases risk of developing small cell lung cancer.
  • Exposure to asbestos also increases risk of developing this disease.
  • Exposure to radon gas also increases risk of this disease.

Symptoms of Small Cell Lung Cancer

There are some symptoms, which may indicate small cell lung cancer, but they may be symptoms of other disease as well. It is always advisable to consult a doctor to confirm, whether these symptoms are due to presence of small cell lung cancer in the patient. Some of the symptoms of lung cancer are as follows-

  • Persistent cough
  • Persistent chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Bloody cough
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Swelling in the face and neck
  • Loss of hunger or appetite
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness

Diagnosis of Small Cell Lung Cancer

There are many tests and procedures to diagnose presence and stage of small cell lung cancer. Some are discussed below.

  • Physical Examination– A doctor may examine the patient for different signs and symptoms of this disease. He may check for lumps or anything unusual. He may also record patient’s health habits and medical history. He may ask more tests, if he suspects that the patient may have the disease.
  • X-ray– A chest X-ray is done to check organs and bones inside the chest for presence of small cell lung cancer cells.
  • CT Scan– Doctor may ask for CT scan of the brain, chest, and abdomen to detect the spread of the disease.
  • PET Scan– PET Scan is used to check presence of malignant tumor cells in the body of the patient. Patient is injected with radioactive sugar and pictures of its use are taken. Malignant tumor cells look brighter in the picture because they use more sugar than normal cells do.
  • Sputum Cytology– Sputum or mucus in cough is examined under microscope for presence of cancer cells.
  • Bronchoscopy– In this process a bronchoscope is inserted into lungs through the mouth, trachea, and major bronchi to check inside of lungs for cancer cells. It is a thin, tube-like device with a light and a lens. Tissue sample are also taken and checked under a microscope for presence of cancer cells.
  • Lung Biopsy-For lung biopsy tissue or fluid from the lung is collected using a thin needle. For this a small cut is made in the skin to insert the needle. Collected sample is examined in lab for presence of cancer cells.
  • Thoracoscopy-In this method a cut is made between two ribs to insert thoracoscope into the chest. It examines the chest for presence of cancer cells. Tissue or lymph nodes sample are also taken and checked for cancer.
  • Thoracentesis– Fluid from the space between the lining of the chest and the lung is removed and examined in lab for presence of cancer cells.

Treatment Of Small Cell Lung Cancer
Non-small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
Treatment and Prevention of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer