Small Cell Lung Cancer
Small cell lung cancer is one of the two basic types of lung cancer. It is the less common of the two but grows more quickly and is more likely to spread to other organs in the body. There are three different types: small cell carcinoma, mixed small cell/large cell carcinoma, and combined small cell carcinoma. Because this cancer grows and spreads so quickly, surgery is rarely used to treat the disease; most people receive chemotherapy. Radiation may also be used to treat it.
Lung cancer is a disease in which the growth of malignant (cancerous) cells begins in the tissues of the lung. It is by far the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
In 2002, lung cancer accounted for more deaths in the United States than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer combined. In that year:
- 100,099 men and 80,163 women were diagnosed with lung cancer
- 90,121 men and 67,509 women died from lung cancer.
There are two general types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is less common than the non-small cell lung cancer. Also, small cell lung cancer spreads more quickly than non-small cell lung cancer.
The lungs are a pair of cone-shaped breathing organs that are found within the chest. They bring oxygen into the body when breathing in and take out carbon dioxide when breathing out.
Each lung has sections called lobes. The left lung has two lobes. The right lung, which is slightly larger, has three. A thin membrane called the pleura surrounds the lungs.
Two tubes called bronchi lead from the trachea (windpipe) to the right and left lungs. The bronchi are sometimes also involved in lung cancer. Small tubes called bronchioles and tiny air sacs called alveoli make up the inside of the lungs.