Overview of Lung Cancer (Small Cell)

published in: Cancer

Overview of Lung Cancer (Small Cell)
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Download PDF File Overview of Lung Cancer (Small Cell) .. Note: This document covers only the small-cell type of lung cancer. The treatment for small cell lung cancer is very different from the treatment for non-small cell …

Lung Cancer (Small Cell) Overview
The information that follows is an overview of this type of cancer. It is based on the more detailed information in our document, Lung Cancer (Small Cell). This document and other information can be obtained by calling 1-800-227-2345 or visiting our Web site at www.cancer.org.

What is cancer?
The body is made up of trillions of living cells. Normal body cells grow, divide, and die in an orderly way. During the early years of a person’s life, normal cells divide faster to allow the person to grow. After the person becomes an adult, most cells divide only to replace worn-out, damaged, or dying cells. Cancer begins when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. There are many kinds of cancer, but they all start because of this out-of-control growth of abnormal cells. Cancer cell growth is different from normal cell growth. Instead of dying, cancer cells keep on growing and form new cancer cells. These cancer cells can grow into (invade) other tissues, something that normal cells cannot do. Being able to grow out of control and invade other tissues are what makes a cell a cancer cell. In most cases the cancer cells form a tumor. But some cancers, like leukemia, rarely form tumors. Instead, these cancer cells are in the blood and bone marrow. When cancer cells get into the bloodstream or lymph vessels, they can travel to other parts of the body. There they begin to grow and form new tumors that replace normal tissue. This process is called metastasis (muh-tas-tuh-sis). No matter where a cancer may spread, it is always named for the place where it started. For instance, breast cancer that has spread to the liver is still called breast cancer, not liver cancer. Likewise, prostate cancer that has spread to the bone is called metastatic prostate cancer, not bone cancer.

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