Lung cancer – small cell

Alternative Names

Cancer – lung – small cell; Small cell lung cancer; SCLC

Definition of Lung cancer – small cell

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a fast-growing type of lung cancer. It spreads much more quickly than .

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

About 15% of all lung cancer cases are small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is slightly more common in men than women.

Signs and tests

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history. You will be asked whether you smoke, and if so, how much and for how long you have smoked.


Because SCLC spreads quickly throughout the body, treatment must include cancer-killing drugs (chemotherapy) taken by mouth or injected into the body. Usually, the chemotherapy drug etoposide is combined with either cisplatin or carboplatin.

Expectations (prognosis)

How well you do depends on how much the lung cancer has spread. This type of cancer is very deadly. Only about 6% of people with this type of cancer are still alive 5 years after diagnosis.


David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. – 9/26/2010

Lung cancer, lateral chest X-ray
Lung cancer, frontal chest X-ray
Adenocarcinoma - chest X-ray
Bronchial cancer - CT scan
Bronchial cancer - chest X-ray
Lung with squamous cell cancer - CT scan
Lung cancer - chemotherapy treatment
Large cell carcinoma
Small cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma
Secondhand smoke and lung cancer
Normal lungs and alveoli
Respiratory system
Smoking hazards

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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