Tests and procedures that examine the lungs are used to diagnose and stage small cell lung cancer. Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options. For most patients with small cell lung current treatments do not cure the cancer.
For practical reasons, small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is usually staged as either limited or extensive. In most cases, SCLC has already spread by the time it is found, so chemotherapy (chemo) is usually part of treatment.
Radiation uses high-energy rays (such as x-rays) to kill cancer cells. In limited stage small cell lung cancer it’s most often used along with chemo to treat the tumor and lymph nodes in the chest. Or it could be used on the brain to try to keep the cancer from spreading there.