Small Cell Lung Cancer

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Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) usually forms in the bronchi in your lungs, right in the middle of the chest. Like any lung cancer, the diagnosis can cause fear, anger, worry. At UVA Health, you'll find a team experienced in the latest high-tech treatments. And we offer the kind of personalized care that puts your needs first. It's important to get care from a team you trust.

Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment at UVA Health


Surgery offers the best chance of a cure for lung cancer. At UVA Health, our thoracic surgeons are experts at lung cancer surgery. They've earned the nation’s highest possible rating for performing lung cancer surgery. 

Learn more about lung cancer surgery and other ways we shrink and kill lung cancer tumors.

Understanding Small Cell Lung Cancer

Compared to non-small cell lung cancer, SCLC:

  • Spreads faster
  • Accounts for 10-15% of all lung cancers 
  • Responds better to chemotherapy

Two types of small cell lung cancer exist:

  • Small cell carcinoma (oat cell cancer)
  • Combined small cell carcinoma

These two types include many different types of cells. The cancer cells of each type grow and spread in different ways. 

    Do You Have Small Cell Lung Cancer?

    The sooner we find lung cancer, the better we can treat it. Lung cancer symptoms may include:

    • Chest discomfort or pain
    • A cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse over time
    • Trouble breathing
    • Wheezing
    • Blood in sputum (mucus coughed up from the lungs)
    • Hoarseness
    • Trouble swallowing
    • Loss of appetite
    • Weight loss for no known reason
    • Feeling very tired
    • Swelling in the face and/or veins in the neck

    Of course, the only way to know for sure is by visiting the doctor. At UVA Health, you'll get examined by advanced diagnostic tools:

    • Chest X-ray
    • CT scan
    • PET scan
    • Sputum cytology
    • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy of the lung
    • Bronchoscopy
    • Thoracoscopy
    • Thoracentesis
    • Mediastinoscopy
    • Light and electron microscopy
    • Immunohistochemistry

    Having an accurate diagnosis helps us create a targeted treatment plan.