Learning about small cell lung cancer

Hearing your doctor say that you have small cell lung cancer can bring about a lot of emotions. It can be helpful to have a better understanding of what lung cancer is.

What is small cell lung cancer?

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC), sometimes referred to as "oat-cell carcinoma," occurs when the cells in your lungs start to grow unusually or uncontrollably. This unusual growth takes place inside your lungs or the lining of the airways. As more cancer cells grow, they can form into a tumor.

SCLC is an aggressive form of cancer because it can grow quickly. When the cancer is first found, it may only be present in one of the two lungs in the chest (limited-stage SCLC).

As the disease advances, it may spread to the other lung or to other parts of the body. This is called extensive-stage SCLC. For many people with SCLC, the cancer can spread soon after diagnosis.

What is SCLC?

What are some of the symptoms of SCLC?

SCLC patient 1

There can be many different symptoms associated with SCLC. It is important to be aware of what they are so that you can discuss them with your healthcare provider.

The most common signs and symptoms of SCLC may include:

  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored spit
  • Chest pain that may get worse when taking deep breaths, coughing, or laughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back
  • New onset of wheezing

When small cell lung cancer spreads to distant organs (extensive-stage SCLC), it can cause other symptoms which may include:

  • Bone pain (like pain in the back or hips)
  • Nervous system changes (such as headache, weakness or numbness of an arm or leg, dizziness, balance problems, or seizures) from cancer spreading to the brain
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice) from cancer spreading to the liver
  • Lumps near the surface of the body due to cancer spreading to the skin or to lymph nodes (collection of immune system cells), such as those in the neck or above the collarbone

Experiencing the above symptoms does not necessarily mean you have lung cancer. However, it is very important to talk to your healthcare team if you experience any of these symptoms. Your healthcare team has the knowledge and the tools needed to make the appropriate diagnosis.

There are ways to treat SCLC

Discover how TECENTRIQ has helped others

How TECENTRIQ is thought to work

Learn about the science behind this cancer immunotherapy option

Information for caregivers

Helping support loved ones can be difficult

Indication

TECENTRIQ is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with:

A type of lung cancer called small cell lung cancer (SCLC). TECENTRIQ may be used with the chemotherapy medicines carboplatin and etoposide as your first treatment when your lung cancer:

  • is a type called “extensive-stage small cell lung cancer,” which means that it has spread or grown.

It is not known if TECENTRIQ is safe and effective in children.

What is the most important information about TECENTRIQ?

TECENTRIQ can cause your immune system to attack normal organs and tissues in any area of your body and can affect the way they work. These problems can sometimes become severe or life-threatening and can lead to death. You can have more than one of these problems at the same time. These problems may happen anytime during your treatment or even after your treatment has ended.

Call or see your healthcare provider right away if you develop any new or worse signs or symptoms, including:

Lung problems

  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain

Intestinal problems

  • diarrhea (loose stools) or more frequent bowel movements than usual
  • stools that are black, tarry, sticky, or have blood or mucus
  • severe stomach-area (abdomen) pain or tenderness

Liver problems

  • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
  • severe nausea or vomiting
  • pain on the right side of your stomach area (abdomen)
  • dark urine (tea colored)
  • bleeding or bruising more easily than normal

Hormone gland problems

  • headaches that will not go away or unusual headaches 
  • eye sensitivity to light 
  • eye problems 
  • rapid heartbeat 
  • increased sweating 
  • extreme tiredness 
  • weight gain or weight loss 
  • feeling more hungry or thirsty than usual
  • urinating more often than usual 
  • hair loss 
  • feeling cold 
  • constipation 
  • your voice gets deeper 
  • dizziness or fainting 
  • changes in mood or behavior, such as decreased sex drive, irritability, or forgetfulness

Kidney problems

  • decrease in your amount of urine 
  • blood in your urine
  • swelling of your ankles 
  • loss of appetite

Skin problems

  • rash 
  • itching 
  • skin blistering or peeling
  • painful sores or ulcers in mouth or nose, throat, or genital area 
  • fever or flu-like symptoms 
  • swollen lymph nodes

Problems can also happen in other organs.
These are not all of the signs and symptoms of immune system problems that can happen with TECENTRIQ. Call or see your healthcare provider right away for any new or worse signs or symptoms, including:

  • Chest pain, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, or swelling of ankles
  • Confusion, sleepiness, memory problems, changes in mood or behavior, stiff neck, balance problems, tingling or numbness of the arms or legs
  • Double vision, blurry vision, sensitivity to light, eye pain, changes in eyesight
  • Persistent or severe muscle pain or weakness, muscle cramps
  • Low red blood cells, bruising

Infusion reactions that can sometimes be severe or life-threatening. Signs and symptoms of infusion reactions may include:

  • chills or shaking 
  • itching or rash 
  • flushing 
  • shortness of breath or wheezing
  • dizziness 
  • feeling like passing out 
  • fever 
  • back or neck pain

Complications, including graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), in people who have received a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant that uses donor stem cells (allogeneic). These complications can be serious and can lead to death. These complications may happen if you underwent transplantation either before or after being treated with TECENTRIQ. Your healthcare provider will monitor you for these complications.

Getting medical treatment right away may help keep these problems from becoming more serious. Your healthcare provider will check you for these problems during your treatment with TECENTRIQ. Your healthcare provider may treat you with corticosteroid or hormone replacement medicines. Your healthcare provider may also need to delay or completely stop treatment with TECENTRIQ if you have severe side effects.

Before you receive TECENTRIQ, tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:

  • have immune system problems such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or lupus
  • have received an organ transplant
  • have received or plan to receive a stem cell transplant that uses donor stem cells (allogeneic)
  • have received radiation treatment to your chest area
  • have a condition that affects your nervous system, such as myasthenia gravis or Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. TECENTRIQ can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant during treatment with TECENTRIQ. Females who are able to become pregnant:
    • Your healthcare provider should do a pregnancy test before you start treatment with TECENTRIQ.
    • You should use an effective method of birth control during your treatment and for at least 5 months after the last dose of TECENTRIQ.
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if TECENTRIQ passes into your breast milk. Do not breastfeed during treatment and for at least 5 months after the last dose of TECENTRIQ.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

The most common side effects of TECENTRIQ when used in lung cancer with other anti-cancer medicines include:

  • feeling tired or weak
  • nausea
  • hair loss
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • decreased appetite

TECENTRIQ may cause fertility problems in females, which may affect the ability to have children. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about fertility.

These are not all the possible side effects of TECENTRIQ. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information about the benefits and side effects of TECENTRIQ.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.
You may also report side effects to Genentech at 1-888-835-2555.

Please see full Prescribing Information and Medication Guide for additional Important Safety Information.