It’s a simple truth that anybody with lungs can be impacted by lung cancer. Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States. With research breakthroughs and innovative therapies revolutionizing lung cancer treatment, City of Hope offers real hope for patients with lung cancer, including some who have small cell lung cancer, a fast-spreading form of the disease.
We spoke with Tingting Tan, M.D., Ph.D., a medical oncologist and thoracic cancer researcher at City of Hope Newport Beach Fashion Island, about small cell lung cancer and our screening, therapies and research that are here for you now, close to home in Orange County.
Do people need to be concerned about small cell lung cancer?
Small cell lung cancer accounts for only 10-15% of all lung cancers, so it is not as common and not well-known to the public. But it tends to grow quicker than non-small cell lung cancer and usually does not cause symptoms, so diagnosis often comes only after the disease is more advanced.
The good news is that the chances of recovery are much higher when lung cancer is detected in its early stages, and City of Hope Newport Beach Fashion Island offers a state-of-the-art, low-dosage computed tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screening program for precisely that purpose.
We partner with patients and local physicians, providing screening, interpretation, and consultation. The screening is reliable, comfortable to receive, and it could save your life.
Knowing the difference that early detection makes should encourage you to talk to your doctor about your risk factors for lung cancer and making lung cancer screening part of your cancer prevention checks, especially if you either smoke now or have a history of smoking.
Our LDCT test, combined with our experts who interpret the results, can make all the difference in your lung cancer care.
And because lung cancer is not just one disease, it is important for someone who has received a lung cancer diagnosis to speak with a highly specialized physician, like my colleagues and me at City of Hope Newport Beach Fashion Island, who focuses solely on their specific type of cancer and will have the expertise they need to determine the most effective treatment.
What treatments are available?
The course of treatment will depend on each patient’s particular case, including factors such as their age or the stage of the cancer. Options include chemotherapy, image-guided radiation therapy and immunotherapy drugs that help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells.
City of Hope physicians are leaders in lung cancer research and treatment. Our patients have access to advanced procedures not available at other cancer centers and to our pioneering lung cancer clinical trials of leading-edge immunotherapy treatments and targeted therapies.
Why is it called small cell lung cancer?
Small cell lung cancer gets its name from the round shape of the cancer cells. They look different under the microscope than non-small cell lung cancer cells. Examining the appearance and characteristics of cancer cells helps your physician diagnosis the cancer and recommend the best plan for treating it.
What are the causes and risk factors?
Tobacco smoking is the most common cause of small cell lung cancer. The risk also increases with exposure to secondhand smoke, pollution, radiation, and toxic substances, such as asbestos. People who are older or have a family history of lung cancer may be more susceptible to small cell lung cancer.
Although it is stereotyped as a smoker’s disease, nearly 80% of lung cancer patients are not active smokers. There is also a hereditary component to lung cancer risk, especially for people of Asian-American ancestry.
What are the signs of small cell lung cancer?
Lung cancers, including small cell, don’t typically show symptoms in the early stages of the disease. As lung cancer grows, symptoms appear, such as persistent coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, bloody mucus, fatigue, appetite loss and a hoarse voice.
What are the diagnostic tests?
In addition to screening, a physician may initially take a health history and conduct a physical exam. A diagnosis may be determined through CT or PET (positron emission tomography) scans, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), lab analysis of blood or lung mucus, tissue biopsy and, at City of Hope, a game-changing new robotic bronchoscopy system. A bronchoscopy allows a doctor to look inside the lungs for suspicious lesions. Because small cell lung cancer often isn’t diagnosed until the later stages when symptoms occur, it’s important for people to be screened if they meet the guidelines.
Is there anything that helps prevent small cell lung cancer?
Quitting smoking is a major step toward cutting the risk of lung cancer. City of Hope’s science-based Smoking Cessation Program offers patients exceptional resources and a supportive atmosphere to make this goal more achievable. Risk can also be reduced by decreasing exposure to toxic substances and developing healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly.
Hope is growing at City of Hope Orange County. Our new locations in Huntington Beach, Newport Beach Lido and Irvine Sand Canyon join City of Hope Newport Beach Fashion Island to form a four-location network of highly specialized cancer care. To make an appointment at any of our four Orange County locations, click here or call: