Early stage lung cancer is lung cancer where cancer has not grown substantially or metastasized (spread) to other areas of the body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, lung cancer has the unfortunate honor of being the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Those who smoke cigarettes have a higher risk of developing lung cancer over their lifetime; however, many people who never smoked also develop lung cancer. Additionally, some forms of cancer, such as mesothelioma, grow in the lungs after extended exposure to asbestos.
Types of Lung Cancer
There are two types of lung cancer. The determination will rest upon the type of cancer cells that develop in the lungs. Doctors can make a distinction between the two types of lung cancer cells using a microscope.
Small Cell Lung Cancer
Small cell lung cancer occurs most often in those patients that are heavy smokers. This type of cancer is less common overall—about 13 percent of all lung cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Non-small cell lung cancer is an umbrella term used to capture all other types of lung cancers other than small cell. Non-small cell lung cancers include adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
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Lung Cancer vs. Mesothelioma
There is a definite distinction between lung cancer and mesothelioma. Many people confuse lung cancer and mesothelioma; however, the American Cancer Society explains that mesothelioma develops in the lining of the lungs, often after exposure to asbestos. When a patient inhales asbestos fibers, they settle into the lining of the lungs. Sometimes, it might take decades for these fibers to irritate the cells sufficiently to cause them to become cancerous. However, once mesothelioma cells begin to grow, they typically spread quite rapidly.
Early Stage Lung Cancer
Early stage lung cancer is typically when a doctor diagnoses a patient with Stage 0 or Stage I lung cancer. Doctors have increasingly used lung cancer screening to detect its presence in otherwise healthy people who might be at higher risk of the disease.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Unfortunately, catching lung cancer in its early stages can prove challenging and difficult because many of the symptoms do not present themselves until the disease has advanced. Some signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:
- A cough that remains persistent or worsens, without any other cold or flu symptoms
- Cough that produces blood
- Pain in the chest, shoulders, or back that worsens when the patient takes deep breaths, laughs, or coughs
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
- Bronchitis, pneumonia, or other respiratory infections that never resolve
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Face or neck swelling
- Clubbed fingers and toes (widening and enlargement)
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Life Expectancy After an Early Stage Lung Cancer Diagnosis
The American Lung Association describes how the lung cancer five-year survival rate is 18.6 percent. However, the five-year survival rate improves to 56 percent for those whose cancer gets caught early, while it remains localized within the lungs. Therefore, it is critical to detect and diagnose lung cancer as soon as possible and immediately start treatments. If a patient discovers lung cancer at the distant stage, when it has spread throughout the body, the five-year survival rate drops to just five percent.
The ability to receive an early diagnosis remains a critical component in the survival rates of patients. Early detection with low dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening can decrease fatality rates by up to 20 percent.
Therefore, if you have a history of smoking or lung cancer in your family, you should:
- Remain vigilant to watch for symptoms of lung cancer.
- Visit your doctor or health care professional regarding the possibility of the development of lung cancer.
- Consider taking diagnostic tests as early as possible to receive any necessary treatment immediately.
Consider How a Lung Cancer Attorney Can Help You
If you received a diagnosis of lung cancer or mesothelioma, you might have experienced prolonged exposure to asbestos years or decades ago. As a victim, you have the legal right to pursue compensation from any negligent party that exposed you to asbestos without your knowledge. You might face astronomical medical bills, lost wages due to your inability to return to work, and pain and suffering.
Consider visiting with the legal team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to learn how a lung cancer attorney can help you with your case. Call us today at (800) 794-0444 to review your case with a team member.