What Are The Stages Of Lung Cancer

What Are The Stages Of Lung Cancer

Once a​ diagnosis of​ lung cancer has been made, the​ doctor will attempt to​ determine the​ stage the​ lung cancer is​ at. the​ staging system is​ somewhat like a​ measurement system, with the​ numbers indicating: whether the​ cancerous tumors are localized or​ whether the​ tumors have spread to​ other parts of​ the​ body; the​ tumor’s size; and​ whether or​ not the​ tumors have spread to​ the​ lymph nodes. There are four main stages of​ lung cancer (Stages 1 – 4) and​ identification of​ one of​ the​ stages is​ what helps doctors prescribe an​ appropriate treatment method.

Different Cancer, Different Stages of​ Lung Cancer

The staging system is​ a​ bit more complicated than simply assigning a​ number. First of​ all, the​ stage numbering system differs slightly depending on whether the​ lung cancer has been diagnosed as​ small cell lung cancer or​ non-small cell lung cancer.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer is​ the​ more common form and​ it​ progresses more slowly than the​ other type. Non-small lung cancer can be broken down into 4 stages. Stage 1 means that the​ tumor is​ local; it​ has not spread to​ the​ lymph nodes. Adding the​ letter a​ or​ B to​ the​ stage 1 classification indicates the​ size of​ the​ tumor (“A” means it​ is​ less than 3 cm across) and​ whether it’s larger and​ growing in​ a​ sensitive area (“B”). Stage 2 means the​ tumor has spread into lymph nodes or​ the​ chest wall. Again, an​ “A” and​ “B” designation determines the​ size and​ the​ location of​ the​ tumor. Stage 3 is​ more complicated and​ can mean several things. for​ example, it​ can indicate that the​ tumor has spread, but it’s still only affecting one side of​ the​ lung, or​ that tumors have spread to​ other nearby body parts such as​ the​ chest wall, or​ that fluid is​ collecting in​ the​ lungs. Stage 4 is​ of​ course the​ worst stage and​ means that cancerous tumors have spread into a​ whole other part of​ the​ body like the​ pelvis or​ liver.

Small-Cell Cancer

In cases of​ small-cell cancer, there are two stages of​ lung cancer – Stage 1 and​ Stage 2. These stages are used to​ designate whether the​ cancerous cells are limited in​ number or​ whether there exists an​ extensive amount that have invaded the​ chest and​ other parts of​ the​ body. When they’re limited in​ number, patients have a​ good chance of​ receiving effective treatment and​ possibly even resuming a​ near normal life. an​ extensive amount however, means treatment options are very limited.

The Staging Challenge

Although the​ stages of​ lung cancer seem well-defined, categorizing a​ person’s cancer into one of​ these stages is​ often challenging. Each case of​ cancer involves so many different factors and​ the​ combination of​ factors can be interpreted in​ many different ways by different doctors. Proper diagnosis and​ classification takes time and​ may take several rounds of​ testing. CT scans, MRIs, blood tests, bone scans and​ even testing the​ pleural effusion (if present) may all be needed.

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