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Small Cell Lung Cancer (SMLC)


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Small cell lung cancer occurs when malignant cells form in the lung tissues. It's a very aggressive form of lung cancer. Small cell lung cancers account for 10 to 15 percent of primary lung cancers. Frequently, it's detected in an advanced stage and almost exclusively in cigarette smokers.

There are two main types of small cell lung cancer:

  • Small cell carcinoma (oat cell cancer)
  • Combined small cell carcinoma

Your doctor will create a treatment plan based on your exact type of cancer.

Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?

Sylvester is an NCI-designated cancer center. The National Cancer Institute has recognized Sylvester for its outstanding work conducting research in its laboratories, treating patients in its clinics and hospitals, and reaching out to medically underserved communities with innovative prevention strategies.

Specialized Lung Cancer Screening Clinic. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the nation. Sylvester experts are working to change that. If you have a high risk of developing lung cancer, you can get help identifying the disease at its earliest stages, when treatment is most effective. Our specialized Lung Cancer Screening Clinic offers screenings that involve a non-contrasted low-dose CT scan of the chest.

Get screenings close to home. Screenings are performed at Sylvester’s main facility in Miami, Kendall, Plantation and at Deerfield Beach. If you're a former or current smoker concerned about your risk of lung cancer and would like to consider scheduling a screening, please call us at 305-243-5302 or 1-877-243-1056.

The most experienced lung cancer detection and diagnosis team in South Florida. We specialize in achieving the most accurate, correct diagnosis of your cancer, often down to the genetic level.

Robotic video-assisted surgery program ranked among top 10 in the Southeast. Our excellent surgeons use robotic video-assisted technology to improve patient outcomes, including decreased blood loss in surgery, shorter hospital stays, and higher survival rates on average for appropriate patients.

Advanced radiation oncology tools. Sylvester offers leading-edge tools that target tumors with pinpoint accuracy, including Proton Therapy, ViewRay® MRI-guided radiation therapy, and RapidArc® intensity-modulated external radiation therapy (IMRT). These image-guided radiation tools provide more effective treatments, shorter treatment times, and less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Questions? We're here to help.

Our appointment specialists are ready to help you find what you need. Contact us today.


  • Surgery

    Surgery is used in people with very early-stage small cell lung cancer, such as in cases when the cancer is found in one lung and nearby lymph nodes only. Occasionally, surgery may be considered after radiation therapy or chemotherapy in people who’ve responded well with a reduction in tumor size. This type of lung cancer usually occurs in both lungs, so surgery is often combined with other treatments. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy are used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.

  • Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy is cancer-fighting medicine given as a pill or intravenously (via a needle). Usually, people with small cell lung cancer are treated with chemotherapy, and radiation therapy to the chest may be added for those with limited-stage disease. Those who respond well to chemotherapy may receive preventive brain radiation.

    Locations: If you need intravenous (infusion) chemotherapy, you can have it at the Comprehensive Treatment Unit (CTU) at Sylvester’s main location in Miami, a 12,000-square-foot unit that includes 33 recliners and 11 private rooms. If you prefer, you may have your infusion treatments at the Kendall, Plantation, Hollywood, Coral Springs, Coral Gables, and Deerfield Beach locations.

  • Radiation Therapy

    The goal of radiation treatment is to eliminate or shrink a tumor, either alone or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy — or both. It can be delivered from outside the body (external radiation) or internally, with radiation "seeds" implanted directly into the tumor (brachytherapy). Radiation therapy is also used to control an incurable tumor and improve your comfort.

  • Clinical Trials

    In addition to standard therapies, clinical trials are available and may be recommended. Your oncologist will review your case with you and determine if a clinical trial treatment may be a good option for you.


  • Pulmonary Function Test

    This non-invasive test is performed as part of the initial evaluation of patients with lung cancer. It allows us to see how well the lungs are functioning and the quality of your lung tissue to determine if surgery is a viable option. Pulmonary function testing also helps your doctor predict how your lungs will function after surgery.

  • Chest X-ray

    This test examines your lungs and chest cavity for abnormalities. It’s frequently used as a screening test for any abnormality that needs to be further characterized.

  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan of the Chest

    CT scans of the chest provide details about a cancer’s location, characteristics of the tumor(s), and the status of lymph nodes within the chest. It helps your doctor detect any abnormal fluid accumulation within your chest cavity.

  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan/CT Scan

    This scan is the standard diagnostic test for lung cancer and provides valuable information for determining the clinical stage of the lung cancer.

  • Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI or CT Scan)

    Metastasis (spread and growth of the lung cancer cells) to the brain happens in 50 percent of small cell lung cancer cases. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) testing will show us if a cancer has spread to your brain and helps us plan treatment.

  • Biopsy

    Getting a small sample of the tumor (biopsy) can be done with a needle or using a surgical core biopsy under image guidance. Our pathologists review the sample under advanced microscopes to determine the cellular characteristics. An intra-operative biopsy can also be performed during a lung cancer surgery to decrease the risk and inconvenience of a pre-operative biopsy using approaches such as thoracoscopy, thoracentesis, mediastinoscopy, and others.

  • Bronchoscopy

    Bronchoscopy allows your doctor to look inside your airways for suspicious areas and take a small tissue sample using a thin viewing instrument (bronchoscope). To perform the procedure, your doctor inserts the scope into your nose or mouth to examine your windpipe and lung passages (bronchi and bronchioles).

  • Thoracoscopy

    This surgical procedure is used for examining your chest cavity and taking samples of suspicious areas. To perform a thoracoscopy, your doctor makes a small incision between two ribs to insert a thin tube with a light (thoracoscope).

  • Thoracentesis

    During a thoracentesis, your doctor uses a needle to gather fluid from the space between the lining of your chest and your lungs.

  • Mediastinoscopy

    This procedure is used to view the lymph nodes below your neck and take samples. Your doctor makes a small incision at the top of your breastbone and inserts a thin, tube-like instrument to do the procedure.

  • Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)

    This new technology allows the interventional pulmonologist to look for cancers farther out from the lung and biopsy nodules seen with a CT or MRI scan. It’s useful in visualizing central lymph nodes near the major airways.

  • Light Microscopy

    Light microscopy is the use of a high-powered microscope to look at tissue samples for certain changes in cells, which can help diagnose cancer.

  • Immunohistochemistry

    This test uses antibodies to look for certain antigens in a tissue sample to diagnose cancer. It can also help your doctor determine the type of cancer you have.

  • Tumor Genetic Mutation Analysis

    This test identifies genetic makeup of the tumor to help your doctor predict how your body will respond to treatment, such as targeted therapy medicines.

  • Cytologic Exam

    This type of lab evaluation uses a microscope to check cells for any abnormalities or signs of cancer.

Accepted Insurances

Note: Health plans that are currently contracted with UHealth are listed below. However, please check with your insurance provider to verify that UHealth is part of your provider network.