Small Cell Lung Cancer

Expert Care and Treatment for Thoracic and Lung Cancers

The Thoracic (Lung) Cancer Treatment Center includes thoracic surgeons, radiation oncologists, and medical oncologists who treat patients with various lung cancers and other cancers of organs within the chest.

Your care team will collaborate to develop a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan that offers the most advanced therapies and an array of supportive resources. 

Thoracic (Lung) Cancer Treatment Center

What Is Small Cell Lung Cancer?

Small cell lung cancer affects about 15% of lung cancer patients. Small cell lung cancer usually starts in the breathing tubes (bronchi) in the center of the chest. The cancer cells are small, but they usually grow very quickly and create large tumors. These tumors often spread rapidly (metastasize) to other parts of the body, including the brain, liver, and bone. 

At Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, our dedicated thoracic team of radiologists, pathologists, medical oncologists, surgeons and radiation oncologists work together to determine: 

  1. Whether you have cancer at all (there are other disorders that can look like cancer but have very different treatments and outcomes); 
  2. What type of cancer you have; 
  3. What set of treatments are likely to be most effective for your individual cancer.

Risk Factors for Small Cell Lung Cancer 

Anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. 

Risk factors for small cell lung cancer include: 

  • Smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars, now or in the past 
  • Being exposed to secondhand smoke 
  • Being exposed to asbestos or radon 

Symptoms of Small Cell Lung Cancer 

Sometimes lung cancer does not cause any symptoms and is found during a routine chest X-ray. 

Small cell lung cancer is often asymptomatic initially. As a result, it often spreads to other parts of the lung or to other organs before it is detected. As the cancer progresses, possible signs and symptoms include coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath. 

Consult your doctor if any of the following occur: 

  • A cough that doesn't go away 
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing 
  • Chest pain that doesn't go away 
  • Wheezing 
  • Coughing up blood 
  • Hoarseness 
  • Swelling of the face and neck 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weight loss for no known reason 
  • Unusual tiredness 

Why Choose Us

At the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, our team of experts works together to provide compassionate and comprehensive care for patients with lung cancer. We are committed to providing every patient with the best and most personalized treatment options available, taking advantage of the full range of services of a top-ranked cancer hospital and research center. 

Your health care team includes distinguished thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists who have pioneered the most effective techniques in lung cancer treatment. 

We provide comprehensive services to patients with these cancers, including:  

  • One of the few dedicated thoracic surgery intensive care units (ICU) in the country 
  • Genetically based personalized medicine for certain types of tumors 
  • Innovative treatments including minimally invasive video-assisted thoracic surgery and image-guided video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery 
  • Access to new therapies through clinical trials
  • Multidisciplinary care delivered by specialists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital