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General Information About Small Cell Lung Cancer

KEY POINTS

  • Small cell lung cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the lung.
  • There are two main types of small cell lung cancer.
  • Smoking is the major risk factor for small cell lung cancer.
  • Signs and symptoms of small cell lung cancer include coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
  • Tests and procedures that examine the lungs are used to detect (find), diagnose, and stage small cell lung cancer.
  • Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.
  • For most patients with small cell lung cancer, current treatments do not cure the cancer.

Small cell lung cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the lung.

The lungs are a pair of cone-shaped breathing organs that are found in the chest. The lungs bring oxygen into the body when you breathe in and take out carbon dioxide when you breathe out. Each lung has sections called lobes. The left lung has two lobes. The right lung, which is slightly larger, has three. A thin membranecalled the pleura surrounds the lungs. Two tubes called bronchi lead from the trachea (windpipe) to the right and left lungs. The bronchi are sometimes also affected by lung cancer. Small tubes called bronchioles and tiny air sacs called alveoli make up the inside of the lungs.

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