The role of surgery in small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is controversial. This study explored whether surgery offered a survival benefits for patients with SCLC.Patients diagnosed with SCLC between 2010 and 2015 were selected from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database. The tumor, node, and metastasis (TNM) stage of SCLC in these patients was reclassified according to the 8th edition of the TNM classification for lung cancer. Overall survival (OS) was separately compared according to TNM stage between patients who underwent surgery and those who did not using Kaplan-Meier method. A Cox regression model was used to identify relevant variables affecting survival. Additional Kaplan-Meier curves were created to compare different types of surgery. Cox regression models and Forest plots were used to identify the predictors of survival in the surgery cohort.A total of 26,659 patients with SCLC were included, among which 627 (2.4%) patients underwent surgery. Surgery was associated with longer survival in patients with stage IA (45.0 vs 20.0 months, P < .001), stage IB (47.0 vs 19.0 months, P = .001), stage IIA (16.0 m vs NR, P = .007), stage III (18.0 vs 12.0 months, P < .001), and stage IV (9.0 vs 5.0 months, P < .001) disease, although the difference was not statistically significant for patients with stage IIB disease. Multivariate analysis identified surgery as an independent predictor of improved survival for all cohorts divided by stages except for stage IIB. Lobectomy was the most commonly performed procedure. Multivariate analysis in patients who underwent surgery identified lobectomy (hazard ratio [HR], 0.544; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.341-0.869; P = .011) and chemotherapy (HR, 0.634; 95% CI, 0.487-0.827; P < .001) as independent predictors of improved survival in the surgery cohort.In a national analysis, surgery was performed in some patients for both early and advanced-stage SCLC. Surgery for SCLC was associated with improved survival except for patients with stage IIB disease. These results support an increased role of surgery in multimodal therapy for SCLC.