Radiotherapy for SCLC

Radiotherapy uses high-energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells, while doing as little harm as possible to normal cells.

Radiotherapy for SCLC

Radiotherapy in people with small cell lung cancer may be given:

  • at the same time as chemotherapy (called chemoradiation) when the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body
  • after chemotherapy when the cancer has responded well to treatment, even if SCLC is extensive
  • to the head to prevent any lung cancer cells that may have spread developing into a secondary cancer in the brain
  • to control symptoms when lung cancer has spread to other parts of the body (called palliative radiotherapy).

Having radiotherapy

The treatment is given in the hospital radiotherapy department.

The number of treatments you have, and the length of time they take, will depend on the stage of the cancer and the aim of the treatment.

If you are having radical or adjuvant radiotherapy, you usually have a course of radiotherapy for between 4–7 weeks. This will be as a series of short daily sessions. Each treatment takes 10–15 minutes and they are usually given Monday–Friday with a break at the weekend.

If you are having palliative radiotherapy, you will have a shorter course of treatment, which will usually only lasts up to about two weeks. Treatment is given Monday–Friday with a break at the weekend.

Back to Radiotherapy explained

What is radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. This treatment aims to treat cancer or relieve symptoms.

Possible side effects

There are things you can do to help manage the possible side effects of radiotherapy treatment.

Who might I meet?

You will meet many different specialists before, during and after radiotherapy treatment.