Jill Feldman, Dr. Christine Lovly

In this small cell lung cancer video you will learn the answers to these questions:

  1. What’s the difference between small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer?
  2. Is small cell lung cancer treated differently from non-small cell lung cancer?
  3. What are the most important questions I should ask my doctor if I’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer?

Small Cell Lung Cancer and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: What’s the Difference?

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is one of the two major types of lung cancer – the other type being non-small cell lung cancer. SCLC is an uncontrolled proliferation of small cells in the lung. In contrast, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) occurs in non-small cells like glandular cells in the case of adenocarcinoma, or squamous cells, like in squamous cell carcinoma. About 15% of all lung cancer cases are classified as SCLC, also known as oat cell cancer, and usually presents more aggressively than NSCLC.

How is Small Cell Lung Cancer Treated?

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a rare and aggressive form of lung cancer. Several factors make it challenging to treat with long-term success:

  1. Screening is uncommon. The cancer is often in an advanced stage by the time it is diagnosed.
  2. The cancer is fast growing. Mutation in SCLC suppresses our body’s ability to hamper uncontrolled cell growth.
  3. SCLC is resistant to treatments and often comes back more aggressively after treatment. SCLC responds well to chemotherapy because of the cells’ rapid growth. The response rate is as high as 70%. However, the effects are short-lived. After treatment, the cancer recurs quickly and grows faster than before.

Some SCLC patients are treated with radiation therapy in conjunction with chemo.

There have been few advances in treatment or new treatments for small cell lung cancer.

What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor?

The most important question to ask your doctor when you are first diagnosed with lung cancer is to ask what type of lung cancer you have.

The tests after diagnosis are very different for small cell lung cancer patients than for non-small cell lung cancer patients, so it is very important to know which type you have.