How is small cell lung cancer (SCLC) treated?

Updated: Sep 12, 2019
  • Author: Abid Irshad, MD; Chief Editor: Eugene C Lin, MD  more...
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The British Medical Research Council reported that patients with SCLC had a poor prognosis and that SCLC was considered a distinct clinicopathologic entity. After that report, different treatment options were considered, and surgery alone was found to be an insufficient method of treatment. A better response was obtained with the addition of chemotherapy and irradiation.

Because SCLC is considered a systemic disease, the clinical course, prognosis, and treatment options are clearly different from those of other lung cancers. Clinically, lung cancers are often categorized into SCLC and non-SCLC (NSCLC).

Patients with SCLC are rarely surgical candidates, and they are usually treated with irradiation and/or chemotherapy. Patients with NSCLC are usually evaluated for possible surgical excision, and their disease is staged by using the common tumor, nodes, and metastases (TNM) staging system.

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