Lung cancer is the cancer with the highest death rate among Chinese people, among which small cell lung cancer is the most difficult. Patients may suffer from symptoms such as persistent cough, chest pain and difficulty breathing. Why does small cell lung cancer occur? What symptoms does small cell lung cancer cause? How is it diagnosed and treated? We give you complete answers
What is small cell lung cancer?
Lung cancer can be mainly divided into small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. As the name suggests, “small cell lung cancer” is a cancer with smaller cancer cells, accounting for about 10% of all lung cancer cases.
Cancer cells in small cell lung cancer often appear in the center of the lung, near the hilus. Compared with non-small cell lung cancer such as lung adenocarcinoma and squamous cell lung cancer, the cancer cells grow faster and can easily spread to the bronchial tubes. , causing tracheal obstruction, and ultimately leading to lung lobe atrophy.
Small cell lung cancer survival rate?
Small cell lung cancer deteriorates quickly. When diagnosed, the cancer cells have often spread to other parts of the body, resulting in an extremely low survival rate. Less than 5% of patients survive more than 5 years. It is also known as the bully and cancer king of lung cancer.
High-risk groups for small cell lung cancer
About 90% of patients with small cell lung cancer are male drug addicts who smoke for a long time and are a high-risk group; other high-risk factors for cancer include: long-term exposure to asbestos, cadmium, arsenic and other carcinogens, family history, or chronic lung disease Diseases such as tuberculosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and bronchiectasis increase the risk of small cell lung cancer.
10 major symptoms of small cell lung cancer
After suffering from small cell lung cancer, patients will have the following 10 symptoms due to hilar mass combined with mediastinal lymph node enlargement:
- Cough, possibly bloody sputum
- Hard to swallow
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pain
- Breathing easily
- Difficulty breathing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Swollen veins in the face or neck
In addition to being prone to local symptoms, patients with small cell lung cancer are more likely to metastasize to other organs than other types of lung cancer, such as to bones, causing bone pain, or to the brain, causing dizziness and headaches. In severe cases, May also cause stroke
How is small cell lung cancer diagnosed?
If patients have the following symptoms for a long time, they should seek medical examination as soon as possible to prevent the spread of cancer cells. Doctors generally follow the following 4 steps in clinical diagnosis to confirm whether the patient has small cell lung cancer and to further understand the extent and severity of cancer cell spread:
- Case consultation:
The doctor makes a comprehensive diagnosis based on the symptoms and past family history provided by the patient.
- Health check-ups:
such as lung cancer screening
- Diagnostic imaging results:
such as chest X-ray, low-dose computed tomography (LDCT), or chest computed tomography (CT) scan, etc.
- Screening report:
such as blood test, sputum cytology test or lung biopsy, etc.
Small cell lung cancer staging and treatment methods
Due to the rapid proliferation of cancer cells in small cell lung cancer, approximately 60% to 70% of patients have cancer cells that have metastasized to other organs by the time they are diagnosed and cannot be removed through surgery.
Therefore, small cell lung cancer is mostly treated with chemotherapy, supplemented by radiotherapy or immunotherapy. After diagnosis, the doctor confirms the location of the cancer cells, determines which stage of small cell lung cancer the patient belongs to, and provides appropriate treatment based on the progression of the disease.
- Localized stage:
The lesions are limited to one side of the lung and may invade the hilar, mediastinal cavity or supraclavicular lymph nodes, but there is no malignant pleural hydropleural effusion or metastasis of cancer cells to distant sites. At this stage, doctors mostly use drugs such as Cromer or Carboplatin to perform chemotherapy on the patient to prevent the proliferation of cancer cells in the patient’s lungs, first eliminate the tumor cells there, and use radiotherapy as an auxiliary. A small number of patients require thoracotomy, thoracoscopic or da Vinci robotic surgery for effective treatment.
- Spreading stage:
When the lesions exceed the localized stage and spread to the entire lungs or other organs, and there is malignant pleural hydrops, doctors will give priority to chemotherapy and combine it with immunotherapy to prevent the patient from producing an excessive immune response that damages normal cells in the body. On the contrary, it will cause the condition to worsen.
It is worth noting that even if small cell lung cancer patients respond extremely well to chemotherapy, most of them will relapse within six months to one and a half years; what is more serious is that the tumors after recurrence often have developed drug resistance, even if chemotherapy or chemotherapy is continued. Other treatments are often less effective.
How to avoid small cell lung cancer?
If you want to avoid small cell lung cancer from coming to your doorstep, it is recommended that addicts who have the habit of smoking should quit smoking as soon as possible and maintain good habits of a balanced diet and regular exercise to reduce the risk of cancer. If you are a group at high risk of small cell lung cancer, you should take regular exercise. Screening for lung cancer allows for early treatment before the condition gets worse.