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Chest. 2003 Jan;123(1 Suppl):259S-271S.

Small cell lung cancer.

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  • 1Thoracic Oncology Program, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, 12902 Magnolia Drive, Suite 3170, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.


Among patients with lung cancers, the proportion of those with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) has decreased over the last decade. SCLC is staged as limited-stage disease and extensive-stage disease. Standard staging procedures for SCLC include CT scans of the chest and abdomen, bone scan, and CT scan or MRI of the brain. The role for positron emission tomography scanning in the staging of SCLC has yet to be defined. Limited-stage disease is treated with curative intent with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, with approximately 20% of patients achieving a cure. The median survival time for patients with limited-stage disease is approximately 18 months. Extensive-stage disease is treated primarily with chemotherapy, with a high initial response rate of 60 to 70% and a complete response rate of 20 to 30%, but with a median survival time of approximately 9 months. Patients achieving a complete remission should be offered prophylactic cranial irradiation. Currently, there is no role for maintenance treatment or bone marrow transplantation in the treatment of patients with SCLC. Relapsed or refractory SCLC has a uniformly poor prognosis. In this section, evidence-based guidelines for the staging and treatment of SCLC are outlined.

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