There are three types of small cell lung cancer. These three types include lots of different types of cells. The cancer cells of each of these grow and multiply in different ways.
The types of small cell lung cancer are named after the different types of cells found in the tumour and how they look when examined under a microscope:
- Mixed small cell/large cell carcinoma.
- Combined small cell carcinoma.
Small cell lung cancer is occasionally called oat cell cancer and is less widespread than non-small cell lung cancer. SCLC can spread itself widely throughout the body. This means management of the illness has to include drugs to kill the widespread disease. Small cell carcinoma creates its own hormones, which then can alter body chemistry.
Although each cell is small, they multiply quickly, forming large tumours, and spreading to lymph nodes and other organs such as the bones, brain, adrenal glands, and liver. This type of cancer frequently starts in the bronchi towards the centre of the lungs.
Small cell lung cancer is nearly always caused by smoking. It is very unusual for someone who has never smoked to have small cell lung cancer.