Small cell lung cancer: Recent changes in clinical presentation and prognosis

Clin Respir J. 2020 Mar;14(3):222-227. doi: 10.1111/crj.13119. Epub 2020 Jan 4.


Background: Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a leading cause of death all over the world. Diagnostic and therapeutic arsenals have improved in recent years, but we are unsure as to whether these advances have been transferred to clinical practice. The aim of this study was to evaluate differences in SCLC diagnostic processes and short-term survival rates between two recent cohorts.

Methods: A prospective, observational study was conducted with patients diagnosed with SCLC (either at extensive or limited stages) in the 2011-2016 period. Patients were divided into two cohorts (2011-2013 and 2014-2016) and followed up for 1 year after diagnosis.

Results: Around 713 patients with lung cancer were selected, 134 of whom had SCLC (74 patients in the 2011-2013 cohort and 60 in the 2014-2016 cohort). We observed a chronological increase in the use of endobronchial ultrasound transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) and positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) between the cohorts. Overall, short-term survival was similar between the two groups and improved survival was associated with age and limited stage.

Conclusions: Changes in diagnostic process in SCLC have been observed towards a more precise stadification. Although short-term survival has not changed for SCLC, it is unclear that the real benefit of PET-CT and EBUS-TBNA is far from correct disease staging.

Keywords: advanced disease; positron-emission tomography; small cell lung cancer.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration / methods*
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography / methods*
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography / statistics & numerical data
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma / mortality
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Survival Analysis