Know the 5 questions to ask your doctor about small cell lung cancer to be an informed patient and get proper treatment started as soon as possible. Those who have not been diagnosed but have a family history of such cancer should also consider discussing it with a doctor.
- What are my risk factors? Common risk factors include smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, asbestos or radon. Diagnosed or not, reduce exposure to risk factors to increase chances of a positive outcome.
- What stage is the cancer in? The answer affects both treatment options and prognosis. Small cell lung cancer has 2 stages: limited-stage and extensive-stage. Limited-stage small cell lung cancer is diagnosed when the cancer is only in one lung, nearby lymph nodes and the area between the lungs. Cancer spread more than this is diagnosed as extensive-stage small cell lung cancer.
- What treatment options are available? There are 5 standard treatment procedures: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, endoscopic stent placement and laser surgery. Treatment options will depend on the stage.
- Are there any promising clinical trials? Treatment through clinical trials might be the best option for some patients. Each trial requires specific client profiles, so options differ from one individual to the next.
- What's my prognosis? This is an especially important question, and one that some doctors may shy away from. Generally, the prognosis for small cell lung cancer is not good. However, you should know the answer to be a fully informed and participating patient.
If you have not been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer but have one or more symptoms, you need to see a doctor immediately. Common symptoms include coughing up blood, wheezing, chest pain, weight loss and overwhelming fatigue.
Small Cell Lung Cancer
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