Does Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) Have Stages?

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Topics include: Treatments and Understanding

What are the different stages of small cell lung cancer (SCLC)? Dr. Laura Chow of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance explains how SCLC can progress and the associated stage, the treatment plan, and where research is headed. Carly Ornstein of the American Lung Association shares how patients can benefit from a second opinion, while small cell lung cancer patient Jerry Schreiber shares some of his feelings as a patient. 

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

One of the questions we got in is are there different stages of small cell lung cancer?  People have heard particularly with non?small cell, you know, stage I, II, III, IV.  Do you say that also in small cell? 

Dr. Chow: 

We don't typically use the typical staging system that would otherwise defined by what we call AJCC.  We can stage it by the location, but the older room staging system used by the Veteran's Association has been clinically in use for many years is the extensive stage versus limited stage.  We used to define limited stage as anything in the chest that you could radiate and treat the patient for cure with chemoradiation, or if they're extensive stage that would mean that it had spread outside the chest area or the spread was so extensive that you could not target it with high enough doses of radiation therapy. 

Andrew Schorr:

So, Jerry, you're listening to this, and Dr. Chow is a renowned expert, and she's talking about this research going on.  Does that give you hope?  

Jerry Schreiber:

Yes.  

Andrew Schorr:

Should you need it there? 

Jerry Schreiber:

Yes.  And again, as I mentioned earlier, being under Dr. Patel's care I know she's very active with that, and that gives me great comfort too to know that I'm close to somebody that's getting close to making good progress. 

Andrew Schorr:

So let me go to Carly.  Carly, you know, you wonder with these changes going on, do you at the American Lung Association talk to people about maybe getting a second opinion?  You know, many oncologists around the country are more generalists.  Here we have Dr. Chow who is a specialist.  Would you say, like Jerry did, he ended up going eventually to a research institution, a doctor who just does thoracic oncology? 

Carly Ornstein: 

Yeah.  It's important that you feel as though you're getting the best care possible, and that is usually care by someone who really specializes in the type of lung cancer or cancer you have, rather.  But we know that can be a barrier.  Not everyone lives close to a large research institution or a big hospital, so, you know, one thing that does exist is that some hospitals will do virtual second opinions, and you don't even have to travel there and you can have your medical records sent, and that's certainly interesting, and can also can be done for international patients.  I've heard of that happening too. 

But, you know, if your doctor is not, you know, aware of research that's going on, if your doctor doesn't seem to really know the ins and outs of the type of cancer you have or if you just don't feel like your doctor is listening to you, get a second opinion, get a third opinion, get a fourth opinion.  You know, you need to make sure that you’re comfortable, and your doctor will not be offended if you need to seek care elsewhere.  

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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Page last updated on April 27, 2018