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Cushing’s and Small Cell Lung Carcinoma

Question: My mother-in-law has Cushing Syndrome brought on by a tumor in the lung. Cytology shows that it is a Small Cell Lung Carcinoma. What are the pros and cons of chemotherapy?

Answer: Small cell lung cancer can occasionally be a source of ectopic ACTH secretion causing Cushing’s syndrome. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be associated with tumor regression. The pro’s of chemotherapy is shrinkage of the tumor mass and suppression of ACTH secretion by the tumor. The con is usually the side effect of the specific drugs used as part of the protocol. These frequently include bone marrow suppression, loss of hair, gastrointestinal ulcers, etc. In deciding about chemotherapy, however, one needs to weigh the benefit of the treatment against the potential side effects which usually are transient.

By David Schteingart, MD (Spring, 2006)


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