Assessing a case of lung cancer via staging is a crucial part of the diagnosis in any case. Applying a ‘stage’ can be seen as a label for how far the cancer in question has spread from its original location. With most cancers, the later the stage, the worse the chances are of survival and eventual recovery.
Each stage is defined by a list of parameters. These parameters normally concern the size of the cancerous growths, as well as the presence of cancerous cells elsewhere in the body- staging is such a crucial part of the initial diagnosis because it is a deciding factor in choosing the appropriate treatment for a particular patient, which in turn will have a significant impact on the probability of survival.
The stage of a lung cancer diagnosis is assessed using the following guidelines (NB: As per the title, the following four stages are only applicable to non small-cell cancer types):
Stage 1 is itself divided into two classifications, but both of these are used to identify cancers that have not spread to the lymph nodes. “Stage 1A” refers to cancers no larger than 3cm in size, whereas “Stage 1B” concerns cancers larger than 3cm, or cancers that are growing into the main airway of the lung in question.
Again, there are two different types for stage 2. “Stage 2A” concerns cancers 3cm or less in size, but that have spread to the lymph nodes. “Stage 2B” refers to cancers that are either larger than 3cm and have spread to the lymph nodes, or larger than 3cm and have not spread to the lymph nodes, but have instead spread to the surrounding sites such as the chest wall, the diaphragm or the covering of the heart muscle.
Once more there are two types of stage 3 cancer. “Stage 3A” fulfils the following parameters:
The cancer is any size and has spread to the lymph nodes, but has not spread to the other side of the chest. Or the cancer has spread into the tissues surrounding the original site, such as the chest wall, the covering of the lung or the middle of the chest.
In “Stage 3B” the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes on either side of the chest, or higher than the level of the patient’s collar bone. One of the other major organs such as the gullet, heart, trachea or an artery.
In stage 4, the cancer which originated in the lung has spread to another major organ such as the brain, heart or liver.