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Small-Cell Lung Cancer (cont.)

Follow-up

  • Patients who are receiving chemotherapy require close monitoring for side effects and their response to therapy.


  • A blood workup, including CBC (complete blood count), is needed prior to each cycle of chemotherapy to ensure that the bone marrow has recovered before the next dose of chemotherapy is given. 


  • Kidney function should be monitored, especially if the patient is taking cisplatin, as it can damage the kidneys.


  • The patient may be advised to undergo a CT scan after 2 cycles of therapy to assess response to the therapy. 


  • If the patient’s serum LDH (lactic dehydrogenase, an enzyme found in the blood that may indicate cancer when blood levels are higher than normal) is elevated before the start of therapy, it is a good marker for response and should be monitored.

Palliative and terminal care

Because small-cell lung cancer is diagnosed in many people when it is not curable, palliative care becomes important. The goal of palliative and terminal care is to enhance the person’s quality of life.

The patient may be given radiation therapy as palliative treatment to relieve symptoms caused by compression of the food pipe, windpipe, or superior vena cava.

Palliative care offers the patient emotional and physical comfort and relief from pain. Palliative care not only focuses on comfort but also addresses the concerns of the patient’s family and loved ones. The patient’s caregivers may include family and friends in addition to doctors and other health care professionals.

Palliative and terminal care is often given in a hospital, hospice, or nursing home; however, it can also be provided at home.

The following organizations can help with palliative and terminal care:

nicotine gum, medicated nicotine sprays or inhalers, nicotine patches, and an oral medication (bupropion). In addition, group therapy and behavioral training further increase the chances of quitting.

For information about how to quit smoking, visit the following links:

Other risk factors for lung cancer include asbestos, radon, and uranium exposure. Take precautions to reduce or eliminate exposure to such harmful substances.

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Lung Cancer, Oat Cell (Small Cell) »

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is considered distinct from other lung cancers, called non–small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs), because of their clinical and biologic characteristics.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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