Small cell lung cancer symptoms include a persistent cough that should not be overlooked, in many patients, because of reasons such as history of smoking or COPD.
Small cell lung cancer symptoms that patients experience includes shortness of breath, appetite and weight loss, fatigue, and weakness, which are consistent with other lung cancer types. Bloody sputum that comes with cough is seen in approximately 25% of lung cancer patients. Severe headaches and bone pain are also common symptoms of lung cancer.
What are Small Cell Lung Cancer Symptoms?
Small cell lung cancer symptoms may vary depending on location. A mass located in the upper part of the lung may cause pain in the arm and shoulder, hoarseness, and droopy eyelids by pressing on nerves. These symptoms can be neglected because they can be seen in many other diseases. If the duration of these symptoms exceeds a few weeks, a doctor should be consulted immediately.
Small cell lung cancer symptoms are sometimes quite insidious. Cancer occurs in almost a quarter of patients without any symptoms. Most people find out that they have lung cancer when they have a lung x-ray for another disease. Therefore, routine screening and controls are of vital importance in detecting lung cancer at an early stage. If lung cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the chances of success in treatment are considerably higher. Lung cancer can be detected at an early stage with advances in imaging techniques such as low-dose spiral computed tomography.
What is Small Cell Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer begins when lung cells become abnormal and grow out of control. As more cancer cells develop, they can take the form of a tumor and begin spreading to other parts of the body. Small cell lung cancer takes its name from the appearance of the cancer cells under the microscope, and it is not only less common, but also a more aggressive type of lung cancer.
Cancer cells tend to grow rapidly and then spread to other parts of the body. For this reason, cancer is usually diagnosed after it has spread to other parts of the body, making recovery more difficult. If small cell lung cancer can be detected at an early stage, the cancer can be effectively treated before it progresses.
Small Cell Lung Cancer Diagnosis
Small cell lung cancer does not typically show many symptoms if any, before the disease reaches an advanced stage. However, it is possible to make an early diagnosis in the patient if a low-dose CT scan is done, or while they are tested for a different health problem. Sputum culture, chest x-ray, imaging of the lungs and other structures, with a tube and camera connected to it to take a tissue sample, can provide a diagnosis.
If small cell lung cancer is suspected, several tests are done before a definitive diagnosis can be made:
- Complete blood count and chemistry: Provides assessment of general health status
- PET/CT scan: Detects tumors in other parts of the body
- MRI scan: Detects tumor spread in other parts of the body, specially the brain
- Bone scan: Examines the presence of cancerous cells in the bones
- Lung needle biopsy: A small tissue sample is taken for analysis
- Chest X-ray: Checks for tumors in the lungs
- Microscopic sputum examination: Applied to search for abnormal lung cells