whats worse? small cell or non small cell lung cancer?

I was under the impression that non small cell LC was the better of the two.As I read on this sight I am learning that non small cell LC spreads just as much as small cell?Am I getting the right info?Please help.Thanx-Kandy

Report post

24 replies. Join the discussion

No - I'm no expert - but I do know that Non-Small-Cell is the better of the two - it is less aggressive and slower to grow. The differences between carconomias I am clue less about....
Karen

Report post

Thank you for all of your help you seem truly amazing!!!!

Report post

ok...moment of honesty - they both suck!!!
SCLC just sucks faster and harder....
hugs
Pat

Report post

heehee - agreed!

Report post

Sucks big time. All of it is just awful.

Report post

As my husband's doctor said "neither are good" but it's my understanding that small cell is far more aggressive and when it comes to cancer you want the shy stuff.

Report post

I also have always heard that NSCLC is slower moving and SCLC is more aggresive.
My Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 NSCLC He walked into the hospital with lower back pain, couldn't walk the next morning and died 5 weeks later. My Mom was diagnosed with Extensive stage SCLC 25 weeks ago and doing pretty well.
So, I'm not so sure about all this stuff. But I do agree that it all sucks!

Report post

My mom had small cell and it killed her a month after being diagnosed.

But again- she knew she has a tiny spot on her lung 4 yrs ago and NEVER EVER got it checked out. It eventually killed her 4 years later.

So who know?

Report post

In early stages NSCLC is curable by surgery. This is what you are aiming for. Even with spread it is still slowed down considerably by drugs. In another 2-3 years new drugs and techniques may be available which are even better.

SCLC is also curable in early stages by surgery or chemotherapy, but is so aggressive it has usually spread outside the lungs by the time it is diagnosed. It responds well to chemo because it is so aggressive (cells are dividing rapidly, so are sensitive to drugs which stop cell division).

As the surgeons are fond of saying "It's the steel that heals".

Report post

Non-small cell is the better of the two. Small cell apparently spreads fast, while non tends to be a slow grower.

Post your question to Dr. West on cancergrace.org for a better clarification.

Report post

Here is the information I received from an oncologist at Johns Hopkins when I was first diagnosed. Hope it helps:

"Over a million cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in 2007 worldwide. Lung cancer, in general, can be separated into two types, small cell and non-small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer comprises approximately 15% of all lung cancer cases while non-small cell lung cancer comprises the remaining 85%. Small cell lung cancer is highly aggressive, responds well to chemotherapy and radiation, but carries a very poor prognosis. Non-small lung cancer generally grows more slowly, responds less well to chemotherapy and radiation, but has a slightly better prognosis. Non-small cell lung cancer can be divided into multiple sub-types. Squamous cell lung cancer is one of the subtypes. Squamous cell carcinoma of the lung tends to present with tumors in the center of the chest near the heart, blood vessels, and airways. Most squamous cell lung cancer patients are active or former smokers. Squamous cell cancers tend to be locally aggressive and spread outside of the lungs much later in their course. "

Report post

Hey Kandy,

Some of ya'll probably already know, that I have, ESCLC. I have emphysema and lung cancer in my right lung. By time I was DX with it, in 2007, it had already spread to my liver, bones, pelvic area and spinal area. I recently finished 15 daily hits of, WBR . I had (hopefully past tense now) 13 lesions/tumors in my brain.

Yes, ESCLC is more aggressive (grows rapidly) than LSCLC. However, even though my ESCLC responds better to chemo, than LSCLC. It is only really ' palliative care' for me, with having the ESCLC. We do pray that the chemo treatments will either slow our cancer/tumors, and or stops/slows it's growth. We usually wind up with having yet more chemo treatments.

The question here for me is, how much can our bodies with stand chemo treatments?

I am to begin yet a second round of chemo sessions. This time though, it will be with new drugs, and I only have to go 1 day a week, for those three sessions of chemo. That works for me. I don't know what will happen if, this second line of treatment does not wok for me. I reckon I'll be told that nothing more can be done for me. That's when I'll look for help with trials.

Hopefully, I have helped clear up the huge difference, in having LSCLC and ESCLC. However, as someone stated above, "ALL and any type of cancer really sucks to have. You take care, Kandy. Hugs.

God Bless You and Your Loved Ones,

Rosie

Report post

Hi Rosie and Kandy and everyone else,

Just wanted to make sure there wasn't confusion. Rosie, I think you are referring to limited stage small cell lung cancer and extensive stage small cell lung cancer. Both are in the small cell lung cancer family, which makes up about 15% of all lung cancer cases.

To look at the difference between small cell and non-small cell, as Patty P so articulately put it, they both suck. As dbfc said, both are highly treatable (and even curable) in early stages. For both small cell and non-small cell "early" means before it has spread outside of the lung area where it originated.

Small cell lung cancer does move faster than non-small cell, but small cell in general seems to respond better to chemotherapy than non-small cell.

So, back to Kandy's question, both cancers can spread to all the same place. They just affect different cells, move at different paces, and respond to treatments differently. But the goal is to get everything detected as early as possible.

Hope that helps.

Amy

Report post

keep in mind too that each of us responds differently. Mine is Nsclc and chemo and rad worked great for me. I have been NED for 3 years now. I don't know why. Sheer determination maybe. Other nsclc's dont respond as well to chemo? Maybe. Maybe just scls's respond better. No matter what the stats are. Statistics can be manipulated and the only one manipulating them should be you. I did it. I changed the stats for nsclc a bit - I am still here and chemo worked great for me. You can change stats too I TRULY believe with faith in your own body to heal itself.
We have an autonomic nervous system - at no direction from us it does things. Moves from a flame, shivers from cold, breathes in or out, no help from us. But this system also directs cells to grow, vlood to pulse, fevers to rise or fall etc. There's no reason we can't help control this over growth of cells (cancer) from some sort of bio feedback. Maybe I am way off base but Im going to keep doing that because it makes me feel that I am really and not figuratively fighting this beast. I picture my white cells fighting, I picture walking without my O2 tube, I picture seeing my 3 yr old grandchild graduating with me there!
So - they both do suck, you can help yourself control how sucky it gets I think.
Believe in you
Jean

Report post

I am unfortunately an expert on both since my dad has SCLC and my mom has NSCLC. My parents were diagnosed this past May. I know that SCLC is more aggressive than NSCLC. They both suck as Pat said earlier!

Kristi

Report post

NSCLC is the better of the 2 to have if you're gonna have 1. It is less aggressive, in fact, Small Cell is so fast and aggressive it is staged only as extensive or less extensive, AND, MOST people diagnosed with small cell show metz to the brain at death even tho it had not been diagnosed prior to death.
I myself have NSCLC and my mom died from the other.....IT WAS EXTREMELY AGGRESSIVE.
God bless you and your family!

glenn

Report post

ok...moment of honesty - they both suck!!!
SCLC just sucks faster and harder....
hugs
Pat

Dang Pat,,,, you make it sound like porn!!


seMPer fidelis

Dave

Report post

March 2nd 2008 my mother was diagnosed with extensive SCLC ,They told us to make the best of what we have with her.She asked how long she will have they told her there is no exact time period,just that if she didn't go for treatment it wouldn't be long,because it had already spread to her kidney.Well she did Chemo and some radiation and she is still here.So yes cancer does suck.but just remember to live life to the fullest.

Report post

I really don't know which cancer would be worse-small cell or non-small cell. My husband was diagnosed Sept. 2008 with stage IV non-small cell and has been responding fabulous to treatment. I guess the one thing I was surprised about in this thread is that it was mentioned that both of these cancers are CURABLE. The first information that my husband and I received from his Oncologist was that he could NOT cure him as cancer is NOT curable. I have always understood this to be true and have never questioned it. Now, I am reading a post on this web site that says both are curable. I really don't know how to respond to this. I am totally confused.

Report post

Agreed...all lung cancers SUCK! I feel compelled to note how I feel...regardless of the diagnosis that it is very important to keep in mind that every case is so very different. My dad has SCLC and it is growing at a VERY slow rate (as far as SCLC goes). He continues to do well and beat the odds:0).

Report post

This discussion is closed to replies. We close all discussions after 90 days.

If there's something you'd like to discuss, click below to start a new discussion.

Photo of Dave Grant

The Lung Cancer Survivors Support Community has provided support for patients, caregivers, families and friends since 2006. We welcome over 600 new members every month in the fight against lung cancer.

ALK mutations and lung cancer

Join the discussion about ALK mutations and lung cancer

Things you can do

Discussion topics

Community leaders