Small Cell Lung Cancer

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, 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.

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. 

lung cancer diagram
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment

Surgery offers the best chance of cure for lung cancer. At UVA, we offer the VATS procedure. If found early enough, we can use this effective approach to remove your cancer.

We also have other ways to shrink and kill lung cancer tumors, including:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Endoscopic stent placement
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery

Do You Have Small Cell 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, 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.


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.