Small cell lung cancer

A less common type of lung cancer, small cell lung cancer gets its name from how the cells appear under a microscope. It makes up about 12% of lung cancer cases

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About small cell lung cancer

Small cell lung cancer is a fast growing form of lung cancer. It occurs when cells go wrong and become abnormal. These cells keep dividing to make more and more abnormal cells. For most patients, current treatments do not cure small cell lung cancer, but they can increase life expectancy.

At HCA UK our network of specialists are experts in the treatment of all lung cancers. If you are diagnosed with a rarer form of cancer we can arrange a referral to the most appropriate consultant for your medical condition.

Need to know 

Symptoms of small cell lung cancer may include:

  • a persistent cough
  • coughing up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of appetite
  • chest pain
  • unexplained weight loss

Having any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have small cell lung cancer. However, it is important that you visit your GP so a referral for diagnosis can be made. While there’s no cure, early detection is important to increase effectiveness of treatment and to help manage your symptoms.

We offer a number of investigations and tests to confirm a diagnosis of small cell lung cancer. You will have an initial appointment with an expert consultant who will advise you of the most appropriate diagnostic tests. These may include:

  • a physical examination
  • blood tests
  • scans, such as X-rays, MRI, CT and PET

If these tests suggest you may have small cell lung cancer, your consultant will recommend a biopsy. This is when a sample of tissue is taken for examination under a microscope.

Your consultant will talk you through your treatment options, which may include:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy
  • immunotherapy

We treat every patient on an individual basis. Your treatment will depend on the type of cancer you have and how advanced it is, as well as your age and general health. At HCA UK you will be looked after by a multidisciplinary team, including expert consultants, clinical nurse specialists and supportive therapists including psychologists who can help you with your emotional wellbeing. This team will work together to create a treatment plan tailored to your medical needs. If you are diagnosed with small cell lung cancer you will have immediate access to world-class specialists and expert care.

Our Small cell lung cancer locations

The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
University College Hospital Private Care

University College Hospital Private Care

Grafton Way Building, 1 Grafton Way WC1E 6AG London
Private Care at Guy's

Private Care at Guy's

London Bridge Hospital Private Care at Guy's SE1 9RT London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London
The Wellington Hospital

The Wellington Hospital

8A Wellington Place NW8 9LE London
The Christie Private Care

The Christie Private Care

Wilmslow Road M20 4BX Manchester

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.