Small cell lung cancer is one of the major classifications of lung cancer. Although small cell lung cancer occurs less frequently, it is known to be one of the most aggressive classifications of lung carcinoma today. This type of lung cancer spreads so quickly throughout the body that there are only two stages for it: limited and extensive. Small cell lung cancer prognosis is usually poor, and only a small percentage of patients with extensive small cell lung cancer survive past a year.
Smoking is a leading cause for almost all types of lung cancer, and this activity is the culprit for most cases of small cell lung cancer. Even past smokers can get small cell lung cancer. A physician should be consulted in the presence of symptoms of persistent painful coughing, shortness of breath, or double vision.
Cancer cells usually appear in the lungs’ bronchi, and then spread to other organs in the body. These cancer cells are highly capable of multiplying rapidly and spreading throughout the body, making small cell cancer cell far more difficult to treat compared to other types of cancer. In the limited stage, small cell lung cancer affects only one lung and the lymph nodes on the lung’s side of the body. In the cancer’s extensive stage, both lungs are affected as well as other organs.
Small cell lung cancer cells also have the ability to form large tumors and metastasize. These cells use lymph nodes to reach other parts of the body, such as the bones and the liver. In many cases, the cancer is spread out throughout the body before it’s diagnosed, leaving limited options for treatment. This is why small cell lung cancer prognosis is often poor, even for patients who are in the cancer’s limited stage.
As with other types of lung cancer, treatment for small cell lung cancer includes radiation therapy and chemotherapy. For many cases, a combination of these treatments is used to eradicate small cell lung cancer cells. Combination chemotherapy is also proven to be effective at improving a patient’s chances of survival from limited-stage small cell lung cancer. Surgery isn’t usually an option for this type of cancer, but tumors that are found only on one lung can be removed through surgery.
With treatment, the five-year survival rate for small cell lung cancer at its limited stage is said to be at about 14%. This type of cancer, although uncommon, can also recur in formerly treated patients. The prognosis for small cell lung cancer becomes even worse during recurrence, with treatment options limited to palliative therapy and other treatments to relieve pain. Patients who experience relapse from small cell lung cancer typically survive only up to three months.
To date, small cell lung cancer remains to have the quickest clinical course of all other types of cancers. If left untreated, individuals with this type of cancer can survive only up to ten months after the cancer spreads. To improve small cell lung cancer prognosis, clinical trials are being held for possible new treatments and the improvement of current treatments.
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