Lung cancer stages are when a doctor learns the extent of the disease if a diagnosis is found to be lung cancer. The treatment of lung cancer varies depending on the size of the tumor and on how far it has spread. Staging is done to discover whether the cancer has spread and, if so, to what parts of the body. Lung cancer is notorious for spreading to the brain or bones, and knowing how far it has advanced helps the doctor plan the most useful treatment. Some tests used to determine whether the cancer has spread include CAT (or CT) scan, MRI, bone scan, mediastinoscopy/mediastinotomy.
Small Cell Lung Cancer
Limited, extensive, or recurrent are the three stages for small cell lung cancer.
Limited Stage: Cancer is found in one lung and in nearby lymph nodes. Treatment may well be one of the following: Chemotherapy and radiation therapy to the upper body/chest, chemotherapy with or without prophylactic cranial irradiation, surgery followed by chemotherapy with or without prophylactic cranial irradiation, clinical trials testing new drugs and new treatments.
Extensive Stage: Cancer has spread away from the lung to other tissues and organs in the chest and other parts of the body. Treatment may be one of the following: Chemotherapy and radiation therapy to the upper body/chest, radiation therapy to places in the body where the cancer has spread, clinical trials testing new drugs and new treatments.
Recurrent Stage: A cancer that has returned appearing in the lungs or in another part of the body. Treatment for recurrence can include be one of the following: Radiation treatment, chemotherapy, laser treatment, radiation therapy or surgical implant of devices to keep the airways open, clinical trial testing of new drugs.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer:
Non-small cell lung cancer uses a traditional staging system. Non-small cell lung cancer tumors may have many stages because they grow slower than small cell lung cancer.
Occult Stage: No tumor can be detected in the lung at this stage but cancer cells are found in the sputum. Lung cancer found at this early stage is often cured by surgery.
Stage 0: Cancer is found just in a local area of the lung and only in a few of the cells. Treatment may well be surgery or photodynamic therapy, as it has not yet grown through the top lining of the lung.
Stage I: Cancer is found only in the lung and is surrounded by normal tissue. Treatment may well consist of one of the following: Surgery, radiation therapy, clinical trials of chemotherapy, clinical trials of chemo-prevention, clinical trials of photodynamic therapy.
Stage II: Cancer has increased to include the nearby lymph nodes. Treatment may consist of: Surgery to remove the tumor and lymph nodes, radiation therapy, surgery and/or radiation therapy with or without chemotherapy.
Stage 3A: Cancer has spread to the chest wall or diaphragm. It could have spread to the lymph nodes separating the two lungs or in the lymph nodes on the other side of the chest or in the neck. Treatment for stage IIIA can be treated with surgery, but will usually consist of the following: Surgery, chemotherapy and other treatments, surgery and radiation treatment, radiation treatment alone, laser therapy and/or internal radiation treatment.
Stage 3B: Cancer has spread to the chest wall and probably the diaphragm near the lung. It may also have spread to the lymph nodes in the area separating the two lungs and to the lymph nodes on the other side of the chest or in the neck. Stage IIIB cancer is usually inoperable. Treatment may be one of the following: Radiation treatment alone, chemotherapy plus radiation treatment, chemotherapy plus radiation treatment followed by surgery, chemotherapy alone.
Stage 4: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Treatment usually includes the following: Radiation treatment, chemotherapy, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, laser therapy and/or internal radiation treatment.
Recurrent: Cancer has returned after previous treatment. Treatment can include the following: Radiation therapy to control symptoms from the cancer, chemotherapy, chemotherapy with radiation treatment, surgery to remove the tumor, laser therapy or internal radiation treatment, radio-surgery.
A rough guide for non-small cell lung cancer survival by stage based on a 5-year survival rate: Stage 1 is 47%, Stage II is 26%, Stage III is 8%, and Stage IV is 2%. These 5-year rates are based on patients diagnosed and originally treated more than five years ago, so the survival rate presently should be more promising. – lung cancer stages