Lung cancer has a low survival rate when compared to other forms of cancer. The biggest reason why lung cancer is often considered a terminal diagnosis is that by the time a person shows symptoms, it is almost always too late for effective treatment.
On average, most patients with non-small cell lung cancer live about seven months without any form of treatment, according to the Systematic Reviews Journal.
Should Patients with Lung Cancer Seek Treatment?
Lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer. Among the lung cancer statistics compiled by the National Cancer Institute, it found that more men and women in the United States die from lung cancer than from breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers combined.
Although the outlook can seem grim, some people with lung cancer can live longer than the average survival rate. How long lung cancer can go untreated plays a factor in the survival rate.
Some other factors that affect the survival rate include:
- The type of lung cancer you have.
- If the disease has progressed past the lungs into other body parts.
- At what stage of cancer you are diagnosed.
- Your overall health.
Patients should understand the various treatment options available to them. These include aggressive treatments designed to kill cancer cells, palliative care, or a combination of both.
Causes of Lung Cancer
Anyone can get lung cancer, but some people may be at greater risk of developing the disease.
The most identifiable cause for many lung cancer patients is smoking cigarettes. About 90% of cases involving lung cancer have links to smoking, according to the American Lung Association.
There are other contributing factors for lung cancer, such as:
- Secondhand smoke
- Exposure to radon gas
- Exposure to toxic fumes
- Family history
Some jobs increase your risk of getting lung cancer. For example, firefighters are at a greater risk because of carcinogens from burning asbestos and other toxic materials.
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Different Types of Treatment Options for Lung Cancer
Treatment options for lung cancer include curative or aggressive disease-fighting treatments such as:
- Chemotherapy: This method involves medication administered through an IV in a cycle of treatments, followed by recovery periods.
- Radiation therapy: This treatment uses powerful, targeted X-rays that kill cancer cells in the lungs.
- Surgery: Removing tumors is an effective (and practical) method if cancer has not progressed into other parts of the body.
- Targeted therapy: This is a form of chemotherapy that targets only certain types of cancer cells.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy administers drugs that use the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells, like how the body attacks a virus.
- Clinical trials: Research studies that invite patients to participate, typically at little or no cost, to try new medications, vaccines, or therapies.
- Complementary and alternative medicine: These methods may include special diets, meditation, massage, and other mind-body techniques to help patients with side effects of treatment and with the anxiety and uncertainty of their disease.
Ideally, lung cancer patients work with their care team to enhance both the quantity and the quality of their life.
Understanding Palliative or Supportive Care
Palliative or supportive care is a type of medicine that focuses on relieving pain and anxiety to improve a patient’s quality of life.
The benefits of palliative care include the following:
- Supportive care complements curative treatment.
- The treatment can start immediately after diagnosis.
- Treatments include medicines and procedures to combat the side effects of curative treatment and the disease itself.
- This approach allows the patient to be in control of their choices with dignity and compassion.
Palliative care is important because it treats the patient with a holistic approach that includes mind, body, and spirit.
Lung Cancer Becomes a Family Disease
A lung cancer diagnosis is devastating for the patient and loved ones. Caregivers play a vital role in helping patients come to terms with the physical and emotional impact of the disease.
Newly diagnosed lung cancer patients are usually overwhelmed, not only with the reality of their diagnosis and worrying about how long can lung cancer go untreated, but also with the flood of accompanying information.
Caregivers can provide a steady support system by:
- Accompanying patients to appointments with a list of prepared questions or concerns to ask the doctor.
- Helping patients keep medications in order.
- Making sure patients have a routine that includes rest, fresh air, and good nutrition.
It is also important for caregivers to take time and space for themselves to avoid burnout and excessive stress.
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Why You Might Consult a Lawyer
Negligence may be a contributing factor for some lung cancer diagnoses, including:
- Medical malpractice
- Inadequate safety materials
- Hazardous workplace environment
If you or a loved one was diagnosed with lung cancer and you believe that someone’s reckless act or failure to act played a role, you could be entitled to compensation. Due to statutes of limitation based on your type of case and the severity of the lung cancer diagnosis, time is of the essence.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm may be able to help. Call (800) 794-0444 for a free consultation with a member of our firm.