Cancer occurs when your body’s control mechanism stops functioning, leading to the formation and uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. These newly-formed cells form a mass of tissue known as tumor, which result in the growth of cancer. Such changes affect the DNA cells present in your lungs, leading to faster growth of the lung cells. Too many changes cause these cells to become cancerous. Small cell lung cancer, also known as Oat cell cancer, is one of the most aggressive types of lung cancer. In Small cell lung cancer, these cancer cells grow faster and spread rapidly to other body parts and organs. As a consequence, the disease can usually be diagnosed at an advanced stage only after it has proliferated throughout the body. People who smoke are most likely to be affected with this disease, and this form of lung cancer is more common among men than in women.
Small cell lung cancer is often difficult to detect at an early stage as the disease is usually asymptomatic. However, if the disease has spread to other parts of the body, you may observe symptoms like- wheezing, breathlessness, facial swelling, fatigue, loss of weight and appetite, hoarseness, chest pain, and bloody mucus.
If detected at an early stage, small cell lung cancer can be treated in the following ways- chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a surgery.
Small cell lung cancer can be diagnosed with the help of a few medical tests. The doctor may perform a biopsy or an X-ray of your lungs, a CT scan or an MRI to produce images of your lungs and detect any tumor. A bronchoscopy can be performed which uses a flexible tube with an attached light and camera to view inside your lungs. A sputum culture can also be conducted to examine the liquid substance that is produced by your lungs when you cough.
Chemotherapy- These drugs channelize through your bloodstream and help to destroy the cancer cells which may have spread to other parts or organs of your body. They can be given either orally or intravenously. Radiation therapy- high-energy radiation beams are given either through a machine or by using internal seeds and wires which help to kill the cancer cells.
Surgery- depending on how far the cancer has progressed, partial removal or complete removal of your lung may be necessary. Pneumonectomy involves dismissal of an entire lung, while lobectomy involves removal of one section or lobe of your lung. All these surgical procedures are performed under anesthesia.
The symptoms of small cell lung cancer usually go unobserved and undetected, hence it is difficult to say when to go for a treatment. However, if you observe signs of wheezing, breathlessness, facial swelling, fatigue, loss of weight and appetite, hoarseness, chest pain, and bloody mucus, you should immediately go for a checkup. If you are an aggressive smoker, you are most likely to get small cell lung cancer. Your doctor will perform a few tests to determine if you are eligible for the treatment or not.
If you do not observe symptoms of Small cell lung cancer, then you are not eligible for the treatment.
Treatment of Small cell lung cancer comes with a few side effects depending on the course of treatment and the patient’s immune system or health condition. The most common side effects include high fever or fatigue, dry mouth and soreness, nausea and diarrhea, infection and skin rashes due to frequent chemotherapy and radiotherapy session.
Post treatment guidelines for Small cell lung cancer require people to look after their health conditions after undergoing strenuous chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions for a prolonged time because they disrupt the immune system and ultimately result in deterioration of health. In case of a surgery, the patient is advised to follow up with the doctor and continue with the prescribed medication. One must avoid smoking cigarettes to maintain a healthy life.
If Small cell lung cancer is treated successfully, recovery period can take several weeks or months.
The cost of undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy for the treatment of Small cell lung cancer can range between Rs.1,00,000- Rs.5,00,000
In most of the cases, Small cell lung cancer treatment does not yield positive results. This is because the disease is usually detected at an advanced stage only after it has proliferated throughout the body. By the time treatment starts, the patient’s health condition deteriorates and the patient survives only for 6-12 months after completion of the treatment.
An alternative treatment for Small cell lung cancer can be Interferon therapy. Interferons are a set of signaling proteins produced by your body and released by the host cells in response to the existence of pathogens like parasites, bacteria, viruses and even cancerous tumor cells. Interferons contain immunomodulatory capacity, regulate angiogenesis, and is an effective therapeutic option to fight cancer. However, the therapy treatment comes with a few side effects such as fatigue, drowsiness, headache, fever, etc.