After small cell lung cancer has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the chest or to other parts of the body.
The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the chest or to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment. Some of the tests used to diagnose small cell lung cancer are also used to stage the disease. (See the General Information section.) Other tests and procedures that may be used in the staging process include the following:
Limited-stage small cell lung cancer
In limited-stage, cancer is found in one lung, the tissues between the lungs and nearby lymph nodes only.
Extensive-stage small cell lung cancer
In extensive-stage, cancer has spread outside of the lung in which it began or to other parts of the body.