There are 5 basic stages to the most common type of lung cancer, with sub-levels to specific the extent of a given stage. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is according to the Mayo Clinic the most common type of lung cancer, followed by small lung cell cancer (SCLC). However, the American Cancer Society reports that SCLC is less common, but spreads faster than NSCLC typically does.
If you or a loved one received a diagnosis of lung cancer, understanding the different stages of lung cancer is essential to understanding treatment.
About the Stages of Lung Cancer
The ASCO website breaks down cancer staging into a few simple factors, including “the size and location of the tumor,” and “whether it has spread to the lymph nodes and/or other parts of the body.” When you or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, it is important to remember that each case is unique.
Though less common, small cell lung cancer spreads quickly, so quick attention and treatment is vital. Small cell lung cancer is usually staged on a more general level than non-small cell lung cancer, because it “helps doctors decide if a patient might benefit from more aggressive treatments,” according to ASCO. Here are the following typical SCLC stages:
- Limited stage: The cancer is “only in 1 part of the chest and radiation therapy could be a treatment option.”
- Extensive stage: The cancer is “extensive,” and “spread to other parts of the body such as the other lung, bone, brain, or bone marrow.”
In the first stage, using radiation therapy could be effective. In the latter extensive stages, the cancer already spread so much that radiation therapy is not likely to be effective.
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Non-small cell lung cancer is staged by more complicated classifications, according to ASCO:
- Stage 0: “The cancer is ‘in place,’ and has not grown into nearby tissue and spread outside the lung.”
- Stage I: The cancer is a “small tumor that has not spread to any lymph nodes, making it possible for a surgeon to completely remove it.”
- Stage II: Consists of 2 substages:
- Stage IIA cancer “describes a tumor larger than 4 cm but 5 cm or less in size that has not spread to the nearby lymph nodes.”
- Stage IIB lung cancer “describes a tumor that is 5 cm or less in size that has spread to the lymph nodes. A stage IIB cancer can also be a tumor more than 5 cm wide that has not spread to the lymph nodes.”
- Stage III: Cancer has not “spread to other distant parts of the body.”
- Stage IV: Cancer has “spread to more than 1 area in the other lung, the fluid surrounding the lung or the heart, or distant parts of the body through the bloodstream.”
Each of these stages contains additional substages, which help determine the right course of treatment, if one exists.
Treatment for small cell lung cancer is “systemic” and can include chemotherapy and immunotherapy, which rely on drugs to suppress the biological processes that cancer thrives on. In addition, doctors might combine medication therapy with radiation therapy on SCLC cases that are limited or extensive.
For non-small cell lung cancer, treatment options are much more varied. If the cancer is in earlier stages, surgery to directly remove the cancer cells and tumor may be an option, according to ASCO. In later stages, physicians might opt to use a combination of surgery, systemic medications to suppress cancer, and radiation therapy. Again, no cancer cases are exactly alike, so the progression of the stages and how they are treated will vary from each individual with cancer.
In any case, finding out you have cancer, and getting it treated can be financially and emotionally devastating. If asbestos exposure is the cause of your cancer, you may qualify to file a legal settlement against liable parties.
Asbestos Lung Cancer Lawsuits
Asbestos regulations for the public only began in the 1970s by the Environmental Protection Agency. Until more strict regulations were put into place, millions of people in households across the United States became regularly exposed to toxic asbestos.
Use of asbestos was for building materials for homes, offices, and other structures regularly used by the public. Due to the long latency period of lung cancer and mesothelioma, many people did not suffer the effects of it until they were adults. If you or a loved one suffers from lung cancer, ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related diseases, our lawyers can help. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 794-0444 to discuss your cancer treatment bills and other expenses.