Font Size
A
A
A

Small-Cell Lung Cancer (cont.)

Small-Cell Lung Cancer Symptoms

People with small-cell lung cancer typically have had symptoms for a relatively short time (8-12 weeks) before they visit their doctor.

The symptoms can result from local growth of the tumor, spread to nearby areas, distant spread, paraneoplastic syndromes, or a combination thereof.

Symptoms due to local growth of the tumor include the following:

  • Cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain made worsened by deep breathing

Symptoms due to spread of the cancer to nearby areas include the following:

  • Hoarseness of voice, resulting from compression of the nerve that supplies the vocal cords
  • Shortness of breath, resulting from compression of the nerve that supplies the muscles of the diaphragm or severe shortness of breath, and stridor (sound produced by turbulent flow of air through a narrowed part of the respiratory tract), resulting from compression of the trachea (windpipe) and larger bronchi (airways of the lung)
  • Difficulty swallowing, resulting from compression of the esophagus (food pipe)
  • Swelling of the face and hands, resulting from compression of the superior vena cava (vein that returns deoxygenated blood from the upper body)

Symptoms due to distant cancer spread depend on the site of spread and include the following:

  • Spread to the brain can cause headache, blurring of vision, nausea, vomiting, and weakness of any limb.
  • Spread to the vertebral column can cause back pain.
  • Spread to the spinal cord can cause paralysis.
  • Spread to the bone can cause bone pain.
  • Spread to the liver can cause pain in the right upper part of the abdomen.

Symptoms due to paraneoplastic syndromes include the following:

  • Symptoms may or may not be characteristic of a specific organ system.
  • Nonspecific symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/25/2014
Medical Author:
Coauthor:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

Must Read Articles Related to Small-Cell Lung Cancer

Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer
Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Cancers are diseases in which normal cells transform so that they grow and multiply without normal controls. In many types of cancer, this results in the growth...learn more >>
Lung Cancer Medications
Understanding Lung Cancer Medications Medical therapy options for lung cancer include surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. These treatments help decrease tumor growth and size. When tumor growth...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Small-Cell Lung Cancer:

Small-Cell Lung Cancer - Treatment

What was the treatment for your small-cell lung cancer?

Small-Cell Lung Cancer - Symptoms

What were the symptoms of your small-cell lung cancer?



NIH talks about Ebola on WebMD

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 »


Medical Dictionary