Stage 1 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) may be present in a sufferer without showing any signs or symptoms. It is usually diagnosed when a doctor orders a patient to take a chest X-ray which is often associated with another illness. Symptoms may include: a persistent cough (smoker’s cough), shortness of breath, wheezing, and recurrent bronchitis or pneumonia. At this early stage, other symptoms are not usually present in a sufferer.
Stage 1 NSCLC is localized (contained within the lungs) and has not spread to the lymph nodes or other organs in the body.
– 1 The cancer is localized within the lungs but has not yet spread to the lymph nodes.
– 1A (the tumor is 3 cm or less in diameter).
– 1B (the tumor is between 3-5 cm in diameter).
These stages may also be described with a system called TNM (T = tumor size, N = nodes, and M = metastasis [spread of cancer]). Example:
– 1A (T1N0M0) Meaning that the tumor is less than 3 cm (T1), with no nodes (N0), and no metastasis (M0).
– 1B (T2N0M0) Meaning that the tumor is greater than 3 cm (T2), with no nodes (N0), and no metastasis (M0).
Surgery is usually considered as the primary option for Stage 1 lung cancer treatment where removal of the tumor may be done via various different techniques. These techniques may include: segmentectomy (removal of a small segment of the lung), lobectomy (removal of the lobe of the lung), or pneumonectomy (removal of the entire lung).
Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) may be used when either the location of the tumor is difficult to reach using traditional surgery, or when the general health of the patient is not at its best and considered that the patient would not be able to tolerate a full surgical procedure. VATS is also less intrusive on the patient than traditional surgery.
If the cancer is considered to be inoperable, radiation therapy may be used to treat it.
Stereotactic body radiosurgery (SBRS) is one treatment that may be considered. This is where the patient is first immobilized in a frame to stop any movement, then computer imaging techniques are used to identify precisely where the cancerous cells are. These cells are then in turn destroyed by being given high dosages of radiation.
Conventional radiation therapy’s are not usually recommended with Stage 1A lung cancer, although with Stage 1B, adjuvant chemotherapy (chemotherapy used after surgery to kill off any remaining cancerous cells) may be offered.