A person gets diagnosed with lung cancer when the tissues of the lungs grow in an uncontrollable manner. A lung cancer has the capacity to extend from its point of origin and spread to other parts of the body, if not treated on time.
The survival of a person suffering from lung cancer depends on various factors such as the stage he is in, the overall health of the individual and the body’s response to the medications.
Lung cancer is commonly caused by excessive and continuous consumption of tobacco, which means smoking in simple terms. People who smoke account for almost 80 – 85% of lung cancer patients while the rest 10 – 15% are found to be non-smokers.
Symptoms of this disease include excessive coughing which can be accompanied by blood, considerable loss in weight and running out of breath easily. It can be detected with the help of a CT scan or radiography of the chest. However, this gets confirmed only after a biopsy is performed on the patient.
Different Lung Cancer Stages
The different stages of a cancer signify how much of the cancer has spread to the other parts of the body. The patient gets treated depending on the stage the tumor is in. Treating lung cancer can prove to be quite difficult and involves procedures like chemotherapy, radiotherapy and operation. Lung cancer can be categorized into various stages which determine the severity of the disease.
This stage confirms the presence of cancer in the lungs being the initial stage in lung cancer.
It is also referred to as ‘in situ’ disease which explains that the cancer is present inside the lungs. In this stage the cancer does not affect the surrounding tissues and is concentrated at one place.
In this stage, the cancer is in the shape of a little tumor. A doctor is able to remove the cancer completely, as it is unable to spread to the lymph nodes in this stage. This stage can be further divided into 2 stages namely, Stage 1A and Stage 1B, depending on how large the tumor is and what its size is. The tumors which are lesser than 3 centimeters in width are categorized under stage 1A while those tumors which are bigger than 3 centimeters and smaller than 5 centimeters are put under stage 1B.
Just like the first stage, this stage is also divided into two categories, namely Stage 2A and Stage 2B. The first stage comprises of a little bigger tumor in the lungs which is between 5 and 7 centimeters in width, which has been unable to reach the surrounding lymph nodes.
It may also define a smaller tumor which is lesser than 5 centimeters in width but has expanded its reach to the lymph nodes which is in close contact with it.The stage 2B is the stage where the tumor is more than 5 centimeters but less than 7 centimeters in width and has managed to reach the nearby lymph nodes.
It may also denote the presence of a huge tumor which is greater than 7 centimeters in width, which may or may not have entered and affected the surrounding areas inside the lungs, but has been unable to reach the lymph nodes till now. A tumor detected in this stage can be surgically removed. Sometimes a doctor may have to resort to other ways in order to cure a patient suffering from lung cancer of the second stage.
This stage is also divided into stage 3A and 3B. In most cases, it has been seen that if a person reaches stage 3A or 3B, it becomes very tough to remove the tumor completely. Sometimes the doctor suggests that it is next to impossible to get the tumor removed for the body.
The reason for this is that the cancer cells move across from the lung and reach the lymph nodes which can be found in the middle of the chest. These lymph nodes are located outside the lungs, denoting that the cancer has spread in all directions. Thus, chances of doing away with the cancer cells in totality get reduced to almost zero. Cancer cells need to be removed part by part which is no longer possible if these cells spread.
Stage 4 implies that the cancer cells have moved across to multiple places in the second lung, also affecting the fluid which is found outside the lungs. The heart and other parts of the body also get affected in this stage because the blood flowing into them from the lungs contains the cancer.
One these cancerous cells find their way into the blood, any part of the body can be affected by the cancer which includes the head, bones, various glands and the kidney. If the cancer is contained within the chest areas, doctors refer to it as Stage 4A, but if this cancer moves out of the chest and starts affecting other parts of the body it is referred to as Stage 4B.
Studies suggest that performing an operation on a patient who in the third or fourth stage of lung cancer will not prove to be of much help in doing away with the cancer. A person may have to opt for other methods of treatment if these cells reach the lymph nodes situated over the collarbone or are able to reach the body’s main organs like the heart, huge vessels of blood or the tubes through which we breathe.
Cancer is an illness which destroys the body slowly, affecting almost the entire or major parts of the body making the person weak and thin. The immune system also almost stops working because of the side effects of the medicines one has to take.
This is referred to the cancer which relapses and returns to the patient’s body after it is initially removed. In case a person is detected of recurrent cancer, the doctor may need to stage the cancer again following the above mentioned system. This is known as re-staging the cancer.
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