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6.2 Small Cell Lung Cancer

Updated 7 May 2008

About 15% of lung cancer patients have small cell anaplastic pathology. Although small cell lung cancer (SCLC) responds more readily to both chemotherapy and radiotherapy than non-small cell lung cancer, the majority of patients develop incurable recurrences. Palliation of symptoms and prolongation of survival can be achieved with chemotherapy in patients with extensive stage SCLC and about 20-25% of patients with limited stage disease become long-term survivors after combined modality therapy including chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Using current staging procedures, about 40% of SCLC patients have limited stage disease and 60% have extensive stage disease. Stage is the major prognostic factor for response, progression-free survival, overall survival and long-term survival (cure). Other important prognostic factors include performance status, gender (female better), number of metastatic sites, weight loss, serum lactate dehydrogenase and serum albumin.