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Lung Cancer: Stages and Treatment Options

Lung cancer leads all other types of this illness as it relates to fatalities across America for both men and women; with more deaths from this lung cancer than prostate, colon, rectal, or breast cancers combined. It is an illness that occurs when abnormal growths, referred to as “cancers”, develop on a person’s lungs.

Lung cancer can be placed into two different types of categories, and they are:

Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC): Developed most commonly in those who smoke tobacco cigarettes heavily, and is far rarer than the other type of lung cancer (listed below).

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): Groups all other types of lung cancers that develop in the same way. Lung cancers that fall under the NSCLC umbrella include: squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.


Regardless of the type of lung cancer a patient has, treatment options for the illness are based on the progression, or stage, of the illness. Once diagnosed, doctors can effectively map out a treatment plan for those who suffer from this illness.

Small Cell Lung Cancer

The stages for this type of lung cancer fall into two categories:

Limited Stage: The cancer has developed in a single lung, at times, including lymph nodes close by.

Extensive Stage: The cancer has developed in both lungs, as well as the fluid surrounding the lung (referred to as the pleura), or to additional organs within a patient’s body.


When it comes to categorizing NSCL lung cancer, the below is used during diagnosis staging:

Occult Stage: Cancer cells are revealed within the sputum; however, no tumor is found within the lungs.

Stage 0: Also referred to as carcinoma in situ, the cancer at this stage is very small-sized, and has not developed within the outside of the lungs, or the organ’s deeper tissue.

Stage I: Cancer might be found within the lung’s underlying tissue; however, nothing affecting the lymph nodes.

Stage II: Diagnosis may reveal that the cancer has developed to close by lymph nodes, or a patient’s chest wall.

Stage III: The cancer is spreading from the lungs, to lymph nodes, to organs and structures close by (i.e. trachea, esophagus, heart).

Stage IV: The cancer has spread throughout the patient’s body and might now be affect the individual’s brain, liver, and bones.

 Treatment Options

As mentioned above, there are a number of factors that doctors review prior to placing patients on a treatment plan.

First and foremost, the type of lung cancer they have, the stage the patient is at within their lung cancer condition, where the cancer lies, as well as the overall health of the individual. The good new is that there are a wide range of lung cancer treatment options to fit a patient’s diagnosis. They include:

Radiation: Cancer cells are killed using high-powered energy beams from sources like protons and X-rays.

Chemotherapy: This is a form of drugs used to get rid of cancer cells. Doses can be given orally or via an intravenous. The combination of chemo medication is given over months or weeks, with breaks during treatment for patient recovery.

Surgery: The tumor, and some healthy tissue surrounding it, is removed via a surgical procedure.

Radiosurgery: This is an intense radiation procedure that shoots a variety of radiation beams via differing angles, to kill the cancer.

Immunotherapy: As a patient’s immune system finds it hard to battle the cancer off, thanks to the production of proteins from cancer cells that blinds immune system cells, immunotherapy works to interfere this process to alleviate the cancer.

Targeted Drug Treatments: This focuses on certain abnormalities that cancer cells present, and blocks them so that these cells are abolished.