Almost two third of all patients who are diagnosed with small cell lung cancer will have extensive stage disease. If no treatment is given, the expected average life span on these patients is about 6 to 8 weeks. Treatment with combination chemotherapy would increase the average life expectancy to about 8 to 10 months. Cisplatin and etoposide
(VP-16) used in combination is the most commonly used treatment regimen for extensive stage small cell lung cancer. The treatment is usually repeated in cycles every 21 days. Usually 4 to 6 cycles (courses) of treatment is given. Maintenance chemotherapy may prolong the duration of response, but has no impact on survival.