About 20% of all lung cancer cases are small cell lung cancer, meaning about 30,000 patients each year are diagnosed with this disease
At the time of diagnosis, approximately 30% of patients with small cell carcinoma will have tumor confined to the hemithorax of origin, the mediastinum, or the supraclavicular lymph nodes. These patients are designated as having limited stage disease, and most 2-year disease-free survivors come from this group.
In limited stage disease, median survival of 16 to 24 months with current forms of treatment can reasonably be expected. A small proportion of patients with limited stage disease may benefit from surgery with or without chemotherapy; these patients have an even better prognosis.
Government surveys show that as many as 3,000 people each year develop lung cancer from second-hand smoke.
The treatment depends upon the stage of the cancer.
For small cell cancer, chemotherapy and radiation are usually in the limited stage disease (when the disease is confined to the chest.)
Studies have shown that giving chemotherapy and radiation therapy at the same time is better than giving one after the other. Chemotherapy alone is used for extensive stage disease.
In some cases where a patient with limited stage disease has only one small tumor, the tumor will be surgically removed, followed by chemotherapy. However, very few patients with small cell lung cancer are candidates for surgery.
Some patients with limited stage disease may need radiation to the entire brain after they have completed chemotherapy and radiation to the chest. This is known as prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI).
Because patients with small cell lung cancer tend to develop distant metastases, localized forms of treatment, such as surgical resection or radiation therapy, rarely produce long-term survival.
If you smoke, stop smoking. Try t avoid second-hand smoke.
There is no evidence that screening for small cell lung cancer with chest X-rays, CT scans or other means is beneficial for patients at high risk of developing small cell lung cancer, and such screening is not recommended
The overall survival depends on the stage of the disease. For limited stage small cell cancer, cure rates may be as high as 25%, while cure rates for extensive stage disease are less than 5%.
The early the better chances of survival
Patients with tumors that have spread beyond the supraclavicular areas are said to have extensive stage disease and have a worse prognosis than patients with limited stage disease. Median survival of 6 to 12 months is reported with currently available therapy, but long-term disease-free survival is rare.
The pretreatment prognostic factors which consistently predict for prolonged survival include good performance status, female gender, and limited stage disease. Patients with involvement of the central nervous system or liver at the time of diagnosis have a significantly worse outcome.
In general, patients who are confined to bed tolerate aggressive forms of treatment poorly, have increased morbidity, and rarely attain 2-year disease-free survival. However, patients with poor performance status can often derive significant palliative benefit and prolongation of survival from treatment