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

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 icon plus

    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.

  • Diagnosis icon plus

    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.

  • Treatment options icon plus

    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 consultants

We're proud to work with leading experts across a range of medical fields, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our locations

From complex cancer procedures to diagnostic tests and monitoring, we provide exceptional cancer care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Contact our experienced cancer team

Any questions about our cancer services or treatment? We're happy to advise you or help you book an appointment in London, Birmingham or Manchester with a cancer specialist consultant.

Call us on 

020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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