Lung cancer is divided into two major histologic types: small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer. SCLC is rapidly progressive and, without treatment, may be fatal in as few as 12 weeks. Fortunately, SCLC is a very chemotherapy-and radiation-sensitive disease, and a variety of chemotherapy agents have demonstrated activity against it. This article provides an overview of SCLC, including current treatment strategies for limited, extensive, and recurrent disease. By understanding the various traditional and emerging treatment modalities, nurses can better assess their patients and help to reduce potential SCLC treatment complications.