Treatment of extensive stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC)

How is extensive stage small cell lung cancer treated?

In the extensive stage of lung cancer, the cancer has spread to far for radiation or surgery which are known to be the initial treatments. If the person is in very good health and in a fairly good condition, these are the following treatments given:

Picture of a doctor showing a visual representation of lungs

  • Chemotherapy

The treatment of chemotherapy is given main to shrink the cancer, treat the symptoms and help the patient live longer. For most patients the cancer will shrink dramatically, and sometimes it will not be visible on imaging tests either. But the cancer can still return at this point and this is commonly seen in patients at the extensive stage of small cell lung cancer. The doctors also give chemotherapy in cycles which is 1 to 3 days and then the patient’s body is given time to heal and recover. The treatment is about 4 to 6 cycles and each cycle generally lasts about 3 to 4 weeks.

  • Radiation therapy

The type of radiation therapy used for extensive stage small cell lung cancer is known as external beam radiation, where in radiation is delivered from outside the body and it us focused on the cancer and this treatment is often started once the treatment of chemotherapy is finished. Studies have shown that small cell lung cancer often spreads to the brain, and radiation therapy is often given to the brain to lower the chances of cancer spreading there. Radiation can also be used to shrink tumors and to relieve symptoms as well.

If the cancer growth within the patient’s lungs us causing symptoms like shortness of breath or bleeding other treatments like laser surgery can also be given.

Read more on staging of non-small cell lung cancer.

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