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Trying to understand SCLC


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I have joined this forum to learn more about SCLC.  My mother passed from the disease 4 years ago, five months after her diagnosis.  She was treated with chemo only, had initial good results and then it came back 30 days later.  My sister  (58 yo) was diagnosed with SCLC on October 2, 2018.  It was found to be in her right upper lung and bronchi.  She had a PET and CAT scan yesterday and hasn't gotten the results.  Her radiologist called this afternoon and told her that her cancer was treatable and would give her tests results Wednesday.  Evidently she will start radiation and chemo next week.  My question is does treatable mean curable.  She is alone in another state and wondering how this will work out, 31 days of radiation to the chest and chemo.  Does this mean her cancer is limited ?  I am a worried sister that wants to be there but have a job and disabled husband to tend to as well.  I don't understand treatable .  Any advice out there?

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Hi there, and welcome.

I'm sorry about your sister's diagnosis, and the loss of your mom, too. 

We generally don't use the term "cure" when it comes to lung cancer.  That's because it's a very tricky disease that can sometimes come back even when it looks like it's gone.  The medical profession sometimes talks about certain treatments as being "curative"--which means that's what they hope will happen, but it's really impossible to know for sure whether someone has been "cured" or not.  

That said, treatable is a good thing.  There have been many advances in cancer treatment, and more are being made every day.  Some people respond VERY well to treatment--even those with SCLC, which is more aggressive than NSCLC.  For many people, lung cancer becomes what amounts to a chronic disease, like others that can be treated on an ongoing basis.  From what her doctor told her, it sounds as if hers is limited.  

So you can be hopeful.  You might want to tell her about this forum so she can get the support she needs.  Chances are you will not need to rush out there to be with her.  If she's otherwise in good health, she should be able to manage the treatments, even living alone.  If she needs help, the hospital might be able to arrange some help for her.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, Nat,

Welcome to LCSC. We’re glad you found us. This site is a great place to ask questions and get information and support from people who have experience navigating a lung cancer diagnosis and treatment.

I’m sure your sister is very grateful for your love and support. If you think this community would be beneficial for her, please encourage her to join. I’m also happy to give you more information about LUNGevity’s additional support resources and programs for patients and caregivers.

Please continue to keep us updated on how you and your sister are doing, ask questions, and join in on the conversations. We are here for you!

With gratitude,



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  • 2 months later...

Hi Nat I'm sorry to here about your sister. My husband has small cell also. He went through chemo and Radation and was Ned ( no evidence of disease) for a full year. Unfortunately it came back Nov 2017 and has gone threw chemo again and it has shrunk the cancer  in half. He will now get immunatherapy for maintenance. He had limited stage. Never give up hope.tell your sister to be a warrior! They have come along way for the treatment of small cell.my husbands attitude; and staying away from sugar I think what really helped him plus prayers of course. Good luck .

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