Lung Cancer (small cell) Overview

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Treating Lung Cancer - Small Cell TOPICS

How is small cell lung cancer treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

Choosing a treatment plan

If you have small cell lung cancer, your treatment choices might include:

Palliative treatments are also sometimes helpful.

The main treatment will most likely be chemotherapy (chemo), either alone or with radiation. Very rarely, surgery might be done if it is limited stage cancer.

After the cancer is found and staged, your doctors will talk to you about treatment choices. Be sure to discuss all of your treatment options as well as their possible side effects with your doctors so you can decide which option is best for you. (See the section “What are some questions I can ask my doctor about small cell lung cancer?”)

Important things to think about include the stage and type of cancer, your overall health, the likely side effects of the treatment, and the chance of curing the cancer, helping you live longer, or relieving symptoms.

Last Medical Review: 09/09/2014
Last Revised: 01/13/2015