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All about lung cancer types of lung cancer small cell lung cancer non-small cell lung cancer causes of lung cancer risk factors for lung cancer lung cancer symptoms diagnosis of lung cancer lung cancer stages lung cancer treatments treatment for small cell lung cancer non-small cell lung cancer treatment treatment for non-small cell lung cancer by stage lung cancer survival rate prevention of lung cancer asbestos lung cancer

What're the lung cancer stages?

Staging is a process used by physicians to describe how advanced the cancer is. Staging assists the physician in determining a prognosis (what is likely to happen to the person because of the cancer). Knowing the stage helps the physician in planning treatment and evaluating the results. Different staging systems are used for different types of cancer.

The staging system used for nonsmall cell lung cancer is discussed in the next section.

A CT scan of the chest and upper abdomen (to include the adrenal glands) is done in the vast majority of patients treated in the United States because the liver and adrenal glands are frequent sites of metastatic involvement. This test permits evaluation of the mediastinum and the contralateral lung and can detect pleural effusions. Patients with abnormal biochemistry values, including elevations in serum calcium or alkaline phosphatase, and patients with pain should have radionuclide bone scans performed to document metastatic disease. The routine use of CT scanning or magnetic resonance imaging of the brain in asymptomatic patients remains controversial, but it is probably not cost effective. Mediastinoscopy can reveal the occasional patient with unsuspected mediastinal lymph-node spread and, thereby, avoid unnecessary thoracotomy and resection. Its routine use in patients with normal imaging of the mediastinum on CT scanning is controversial.

Knowing the stage of lung cancer helps the doctor set the treatment plan. The patient's medical history and condition are evaluated as part of the staging process. Tests are given to see if the patient has enough lung capacity to safely undergo surgery. Other tests, such as a bone or brain scans, may be needed to see if the tumor has spread to other parts of the body.

Small cell lung cancer stages

About 25% of all lung cancer is small cell cancer. The stages of this type of lung cancer range from limited disease (confined to the chest) to extensive disease (spread outside the chest). The outlook is better for limited-stage small cell cancer. Generally, patients are treated with chemotherapy and radiation. Surgery is rarely done, because by the time this cancer has been diagnosed it usually spread to other parts of the body, even if tests do not prove it.

Non-small cell lung cancer stages

Staging for non-small cell lung cancers, called the TNM system, takes into account the nature of the primary tumor (T), status of the lymph nodes (N), evidence of metastases (the cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (M)).
  • Stage I: Cancer is located in only one lung and has not spread to the adjacent lymph nodes or outside the chest.
  • Stage II: Cancer is located in one lung and may involve lymph nodes on the same side of the chest but does not include lymph nodes in the space between the lungs (the mediastinum) or outside the chest.
  • Stage IIIA: Cancer is a single tumor or mass that is not invading any adjacent organs and involves one or more lymph nodes away from the tumor, but not outside the chest.
  • Stage IIIB: Cancer has spread to more than one area in the chest, but not outside the chest.
  • Stage IV: Cancer has spread, or metastasized, to different sites in the body, which may include the liver, brain or other organs.
  • Recurrent/Relapsed: Cancer has progressed or returned (recurred/relapsed) following an initial treatment with surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.

More information on lung cancer

What is lung cancer? - Lung cancer is a malignant tumour of the lungs. Lung cancer is the cancer that originates in the tissues of the lungs. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths.
What types of lung cancer are there? - The lungs are made up of several kinds of cells that perform different functions. The type of lung cancer depends on which cell type is affected.
What is small cell lung cancer? - Small cell lung cancer is a type of lung cancer in which the cells look like oats. Small cell lung cancer is almost always caused by smoking.
What is non-small cell lung cancer? - Non-small cell lung cancers include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma, adenosquamous carcinoma, and undifferentiated carcinoma.
What causes lung cancer? - Cigarette smoking is the most significant cause of lung cancer. Asbestos exposure increases the risk of lung cancer. Lung diseases create a risk for lung cancer.
What're the risk factors for lung cancer? - Risk factors for lung cancer include tobacco smoking, marijuana, asbestos, radon, lung diseases, radiation therapy, work-related exposure to substances.
What're the signs and symptoms of lung cancer? - Lung cancer may cause a number of symptoms. The primary symptoms of lung cancer are cough, shortness of breath, hoarseness, blood in the sputum, and pain.
How is lung cancer diagnosed? - Diagnosis of lung cancer may be made by physical examination, chest X rays, bronchoscopy, or percutaneous needle biopsy. Lung biopsy is the most definitive diagnostic tool for cancer.
What're the lung cancer stages? - Lung cancer is staged according to its location, size, cell type, and spread. Knowing the stage of lung cancer helps the doctor set the treatment plan.
What're the treatments for lung cancer? - The treatment of lung cancer depends on the type and stage of the disease and includes surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
What's the treatment for small cell lung cancer? - At limited stage treatments for small cell lung cancer include various combinations of chemotherapy, radiation.
What's the treatment for non-small cell lung cancer? - Surgery is the primary treatment for all non¨Csmall cell lung cancers. Radiation therapy may be administered.
Treatment for non-small cell lung cancer by stage - Stage III non-small cell lung cancer are treated with radiation and sometimes with surgery, chemotherapy, or combinations of each.
What's the prognosis of lung cancer survival rate? - The prognosis of lung cancer depends on the type of lung cancer, its stage, and the overall health of the patient.
How to prevent lung cancer? - Prevention of lung cancer includes quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to potentially cancer-causing substances in the work environment.
Asbestos lung cancer - The most serious hazard of exposure to asbestos is cancer. Lung cancer causes the largest number of deaths related to asbestos exposure.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005