Stage 4 cancer usually has spread to multiple places in the body, meaning you can live only a few weeks or a few months.
In rare cases, some people may survive for several months or even a year with stage 4 cancer, with or without treatment. Some studies have found that attempting to aggressively treat cancer that has reached stage 4 can actually lead to a drop in the quality of the patient’s remaining life.
Stages of Cancer Explained
According to Cancer.net, medical researchers created five specific stages of cancer to describe the progression of the disease. Stage 4 is the most advanced and most serious cancer diagnosis.
- Stage 0: a small cancerous tumor that is easy to remove and has little to no chance of spreading.
- Stage 1: an early-stage cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes, resulting in a good chance of a cure.
- Stage 2: often consists of large tumors that are affecting nearby tissues.
- Stage 3: consists of large tumors that likely have spread into the lymph nodes.
- Stage 4: advanced or metastatic cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, including other organs.
A doctor may initially diagnose cancer at any of these stages. Additionally, cancer initially diagnosed at an early stage could progress to an advanced stage if treatment options do not work.
Deciding on Treatment Options
Cancers that consist of solid tumors tend to have the best chance of responding favorably to the initial treatment.
However, should the tumor continue growing after the first treatment, the chances that future treatments stand little chance of causing the tumor to shrink are small, according to the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation.
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A recent national study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that the majority of people who choose to undergo chemotherapy or other aggressive treatments for stage 4 cancer do not understand the limitations of this treatment.
In fact, for someone who likely only has weeks or months to live, aggressive treatments like chemotherapy may end up causing a significant reduction in quality of life over a period of a few weeks. This can cause the ill person to delay making end-of-life preparations or to delay entering hospice.
Understanding the Nature of Stage 4 Cancer
A person with stage 4 cancer may not feel ready to face the likelihood of death, which causes them to be willing to try any kind of treatment, even with a small chance of success, according to the study.
Sometimes, doctors do not speak in straightforward terms with patients about the limited chances of success in curing stage 4 cancer. Patients need to ask questions of doctors about the actual chances of recovery when facing stage 4 cancer. They also should ask about the benefits of hospice care, such as those outlined by the Mayo Clinic.
Choosing to End Treatment
Because of a minimal possibility of recovery from stage 4 cancer, some cancer sufferers choose not to undergo additional treatments, including chemotherapy.
The use of drugs and treatments may help alleviate some of the symptoms of stage 4 cancer, but they rarely work to cure the cancer at this advanced stage.
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Options Beyond Traditional Treatment
If the cancer continues to spread throughout the body after a round of initial treatment, moving to an advanced stage, a doctor may suggest to the patient that additional treatments will not likely deliver the cure the patient wants.
At this point, a doctor may success an alternative to traditional cancer treatments, including:
- A clinical trial: Researchers may provide experimental treatments for the cancer, all of which may present higher risks than traditional treatments.
- Palliative care: Doctors may suggest stopping treatment and working to relieve the symptoms of the cancer for the remainder of life.
- Entering hospice: This type of palliative care focuses on end-of-life preparation.
We Stand Ready to Work for You
If you have stage 4 lung cancer and another party exposed you to the toxins that led to your diagnosis of cancer, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical costs, pain, and suffering.
At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we know awards cannot truly compensate you for this situation, but you can use the lawsuit to hold the offending party responsible. Should you hire us, we can answer any questions you have regarding your legal case.
Contact us today at (800) 217-6099 for a free consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, so we do not receive payment until the case reaches a settlement.