Oat cell cancer symptoms | Cancer Research UK
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Oat cell cancer symptoms

I have pins and needles, numbness in the fingers and toes, and swelling of one side of the throat. My doctor says these symptoms are due to my oat cell lung cancer. Can you tell me about this?

Oat cell is another name for small cell lung cancer. Your doctor is right that the symptoms you describe often occur with small cell lung cancer. Some oat cell cancers make particular proteins called antibodies that affect the nerves and cause pins and needles and numbness. Doctors call symptoms caused by chemicals produced by the cancer paraneoplastic syndromes.

Swelling in one side of the neck is also reasonably common in small cell lung cancer. About 1 in 10 people have it when they are diagnosed. It happens because this type of cancer tends to grow at the top of the lung. The growing cancer can press on a major vein called the superior vena cava. This makes the blood pressure increase in the vena cava and forces fluid out into the surrounding tissues, which causes swelling. Doctors call this SVCO or superior vena cava obstruction. SVCO is usually treated with radiotherapy to the area to shrink the cancer and relieve the pressure. A lump or swelling in the neck may also mean the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.

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Updated: 11 April 2014