Small-Cell Lung Cancer

Comprising approximately 20 percent of all lung cancers, SCLC, as the name suggests, are small cells that multiply quickly. This rapid multiplication is aggressive and causes large tumors to form. It typically develops in the central areas of the lung. Because of how quickly it can metastasize, the cancer is usually detected in other parts of the body. Current or former smokers make up almost all of the patients diagnosed with SCLC. Lung cancer is a more general classification and includes all of the types of tumors that concern it, including non-small-cell lung cancer or NSCLC.

All types of lung cancer can be traced to the same carcinogens. As stated earlier, research shows that tobacco smoking accounts for a majority of diagnosed lung cancer cases, especially in SCLC. However, exposure to materials such as asbestos is also a known cause. Asbestos is a human carcinogen once used for insulation in factories, shipyards, and other industries. Since the 1970s the government has regulated against it. Inhalation of asbestos can lead not only to lung cancer, but mesothelioma, and other non-cancerous illnesses. Once a patient has been diagnosed with lung cancer the specific type will influence their doctor as to what course of treatment to take.

SCLC often develops in the bronchi which are near the center of the chest. Unfortunately, this type of cancer has a tendency to metastasize in the earlier stages, even before the onset of symptoms. Generally, SCLC spreads to areas such as the bones, brain, adrenal glands, and liver. The tumors formed from SCLC are usually large and the American Cancer Society notes that surgery is rarely an option. Chemotherapy is more likely to be utilized as a treatment, pending the health of the patient.



Mayo Clinic