There are many treatment options available for treatment of small cell lung cancer. Doctors decide the most appropriate treatment option based on stage or spread of the disease. Before treatment, the stage of the small cell lung cancer is determined through different diagnostic methods. Then depending on the stage of the disease one or combination of more than one method is selected for the treatment.

Stages of small cell lung cancer

After diagnosis of presence of small cell lung cancer doctors ask for more tests to detect the spread or stage of the small cell lung cancer. This disease can spread from one or both lungs to other parts of the body.  The small cell lung cancer can be divided into following stages-

Limited stage:

It is the earliest stage of the small cell lung cancer. In this stage the disease is confined to one lung and affects nearby lymph nodes.

Extensive stage: In the next stage known as extensive stage of small cell lung cancer, the disease spreads outside the lung and starts affecting other tissues in the chest or other parts of the body.

Recurrent stage:

It is that stage of the cancer, where the disease returns back after treatment. It can affect lungs as well as other part of body.

Treatment Methods For Small Cell Lung Cancer

There are many treatment methods used for treating small cell lung cancer. Before deciding the treatment option following things are considered.

  • The stage or spread of the small cell lung cancer, it may spread to chest cavity or other parts of body.
  • The gender, age, general health and medical history of the patient.
  • The level of lactate dehydrogenase or LDH in the blood.

Following treatment methods are used for treating patients of small cell lung cancer.

Surgery:

Surgery is used if the disease is confined to one lung and nearby lymph nodes or tissues. If the disease is quickly spreading then surgery does not cure it alone. It is generally used with other methods of treatment. Surgery may help in determining the exact type of lung cancer. Following surgical methods are used for removal of cancerous tissues.

  • Wedge Resection- It is used to remove only a small part of the lung.
  • Lobectomy- To remove a lobe of the lung, this surgical method is used.
  • Pneumonectomy- It is used to remove the entire lung.

Doctors may also remove lymph nodes if they contain cancer.

Radiation Therapy:

Radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells or stop their further growth. It may be used if the disease has spread to entire lung or other parts of the body. Radiation therapy is also used to prevent the cancer from spreading up to the brain. This process is known as prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI). PCI may affect brain functions. Radiation may be used alone or with other methods of treatment.

Chemotherapy:

Chemotherapy is a widely used method to treat all stages of small cell lung cancer. It may be given through pills or IV infusions in the vein or muscle. It is used to kill cancerous cell, if the disease has spread outside the lungs and to other body parts or even brain.

Apart from these treatment methods, patients may also undergo different experimental treatment therapies by participating in different clinical trials for improvement of treatment.

Non-small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)