Up to 80% of limited stage SCLC cases respond to chemotherapy. Extensive stage SCLC is usually treated with a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy and has a response rate of more than 60%.
Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) tends to be more aggressive and more difficult to treat than the other main type of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The 5-year relative survival rate for SCLC is
Chemotherapy is one of
Read on to learn more about how chemotherapy is used to manage SCLC and about SCLC’s response rates to chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy plays a critical role in treating SCLC and NSCLC. Chemotherapy drugs target cells that replicate quickly, such as cancer cells. These drugs damage the DNA of cancer cells to destroy them or slow their growth.
Chemotherapy is used to treat all stages of SCLC, but the goal of treatment changes depending on how advanced your cancer is.
Most doctors divide SCLC into two categories: limited stage and extensive stage.
Limited stage SCLC
You may have surgery to remove the tumor or lymph nodes before receiving chemotherapy.
Limited stage SCLC is highly sensitive to chemotherapy — it responds to chemotherapy treatment
Trying the same chemotherapy regimen again is recommended for relapses that occur more than
Extensive stage SCLC
In extensive stage SCLC, the cancer has spread:
- throughout your lung
- to the other lung
- to lymph nodes on the other side of your chest
- to distant body parts such as bone marrow
Extensive stage SCLC is most commonly treated with a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
The response rate of platinum-based chemotherapy plus etoposide is more than
Most common chemotherapy combinations for SCLC
Doctors usually treat SCLC with a combination of chemotherapy drugs. According to the
- cisplatin and etoposide
- carboplatin and etoposide
- cisplatin and irinotecan
- carboplatin and irinotecan
Topotecan or lurbinectedin may be used alone to treat SCLC that has spread to other organs, especially if cisplatin and carboplatin are not effective.
Chemotherapy drugs target cells that replicate quickly, such as cancer cells. However, chemotherapy drugs can also damage healthy cells that replicate quickly, such as those in your:
- gastrointestinal tract
- hair follicles
Common side effects of chemotherapy when treating lung cancer include:
- skin problems
- mouth sores
- loss of appetite
- peripheral nerve damage
- hair loss
- increased infections
- easy bruising and bleeding
- nausea and vomiting
- low blood cell counts
Six standard treatments are used to treat SCLC:
Surgery usually isn’t a primary treatment for SCLC since most cases are too advanced to be surgically removed by the time they’re diagnosed. Surgery may sometimes be combined with radiation therapy and chemotherapy if the cancer is limited to one lung and nearby lymph nodes.
Your doctors may also perform surgery to take a sample of lung tissue to see which type of lung cancer you have.
Radiation therapy is often combined with chemotherapy to treat limited stage SCLC. It’s sometimes performed after chemotherapy to treat extensive stage SCLC.
Doctors often use radiation therapy to help ease symptoms in people with incurable SCLC.
Immunotherapy stimulates your immune system to attack cancer cells. Immunotherapy is often combined with chemotherapy to treat extensive stage SCLC.
Laser therapy involves using concentrated beams of light to destroy cancer cells. Healthcare professionals may use this treatment to help manage symptoms such as shortness of breath in people with recurrent SCLC.
Endoscopic stent placement
An endoscopic stent is a tube placed in your airways to reduce a blockage. You may receive a stent if you’re having trouble breathing.
Chemotherapy is used to treat all stages of SCLC. It’s often combined with radiation therapy to try to cure SCLC in the limited stage.
Extensive stage SCLC is not usually considered curable, but chemotherapy can potentially slow its growth and help you manage your symptoms. The most common treatment for extensive stage SCLC is chemotherapy combined with immunotherapy.