Lung Cancer Home > Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment


Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing.
When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). The way the chemotherapy is administered depends on the type and stage of the small cell lung cancer being treated.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells.
There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer.
Prophylactic cranial irradiation (radiation therapy to the brain to reduce the risk that cancer will spread to the brain) may also be given. The way the radiation therapy is administered depends on the type and stage of the lung cancer being treated.

Clinical Trials

Before starting treatment for small cell lung cancer, patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. A small cell lung cancer research trial is a study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with small cell lung cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment for small cell lung cancer is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment.
You can learn more about specific treatments for each stage of small cell lung cancer by going to the full eMedTV article on Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment by Stage. You can also read more about treatment for lung cancer in general by going to Lung Cancer Treatment.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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