Support for Small Cell Lung Cancer

NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center offers a range of services that provide you with the support and care you need to maintain a good quality of life, whether or not small cell lung cancer responds to treatment.

If treatment causes the cancer to shrink, or if it cannot be detected following treatment, you may visit your doctors every three or four months after treatment ends. These appointments may include a physical exam and a low-dose CT scan of the chest to ensure that the cancer has not returned.

VIDEO: Addressing the physical and emotional symptoms of lung cancer.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Treatment for small cell lung cancer may damage the lungs, leading to weakness and difficulty breathing, walking, and completing your usual activities.

Immediately after small cell lung cancer surgery, under the guidance of doctors at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation, physical therapists help you regain your mobility so that you can return home as soon as possible. They help you get out of the hospital bed and encourage you to move around. Our doctors prescribe medications for any pain and discomfort that affect your mobility.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Experts at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation provide pulmonary rehabilitation to help improve your breathing and movement after treatment.

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Pulmonary therapists from Rusk Rehabilitation can help improve your breathing and physical function by teaching you breathing exercises, airway clearance techniques, and relaxation techniques. Doctors may also prescribe medication and guide you in the use of assistive breathing devices.  

Once you return home after surgery, pulmonary rehabilitation continues on an outpatient basis. This can help rebuild your endurance so you can return to your everyday routine. Outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation focuses on strength training and aerobic exercise to address cancer-related weakness and fatigue. It also aims to improve balance, flexibility, and mobility.

Supportive Care

Our supportive care team can help provide relief from any discomfort associated with small cell lung cancer or its treatments. Supportive care starts at the beginning of treatment to improve a person’s quality of life. Studies have shown that people with small cell lung cancer who receive supportive care at the beginning of their treatment live longer than those who do not.

Supportive care may include additional medications, integrative health therapies, or both. Integrative therapies include massage therapy, which can help reduce stress, and acupuncture, which may relieve chemotherapy-related hot flashes and radiation-related fatigue.

Neuropathy Management

Chemotherapy may cause neuropathy, which affects sensation and strength in the arms, legs, hands, feet, and elsewhere in the body. The condition is also associated with weakness and trouble balancing and walking. Doctors at Rusk Rehabilitation may prescribe medication to ease discomfort and physical therapy to help prevent the neuropathy from interfering with your balance and strength.

Cognitive Rehabilitation

Sometimes prophylactic cranial irradiation, or whole brain radiation therapy, is used to prevent small cell lung cancer from spreading to the brain. This may cause problems with your ability to think or process information. Chemotherapy without radiation therapy can cause the same side effect. At Rusk Rehabilitation, our rehabilitation doctors, neurologists, and psychologists can help you regain cognitive function or adapt to any challenges you may be experiencing.


Our doctors encourage people with small cell lung cancer to eat healthfully. Registered oncology dietitians at Perlmutter Cancer Center can provide nutrition education and counseling.

Psychological and Social Support

Support groups and one-on-one counseling sessions with a psycho-oncologist, a healthcare provider trained to address the psychological needs of people with cancer, are available at Perlmutter Cancer Center. Psychological support can help you cope with any depression or anxiety you may experience.

Counseling and Stress Reduction

Our support services team provides programs that help reduce stress and improve quality of life during and after treatments for small cell lung cancer.

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Our social workers are available to help you address any financial or logistical matters that may arise during your treatment.

Tobacco Cessation

Quitting smoking can help improve the outcomes of treatments for small cell lung cancer and reduce your risk of cancer recurrence. Experts at our Tobacco Cessation Program provide services to help you quit.