Lung cancer is one of the most dangerous cancers. It affects both men and women equally. The mortality cases of lung cancer are the highest amongst all types of other cancers. It occurs mainly in the elderly. Cigarette smoking is the commonest cause of lung cancer.
There are various stages at which lung cancer presents. Stage 1 is the initial or the first stage of the lung cancer. Stage 4 is the most severe stage of lung cancer. The treatment pattern differs with the stage at which the lung cancer presents.
Stages of lung cancer are as follows:
Stage 1 lung cancer:
Stage 1 is the initial stage of lung cancer. The cancer detected at this stage is much better as with early diagnosis the treatment also is started immediately. In this stage the cancer cells are limited only to the lung area. All the surrounding tissues remain normal and unaffected by the cancerous cells. This stage is again divided into two sub stages 1A and 1B. This sub classification depends on the size of the tumor growth, also depends on the involvement of the bronchus. The treatment in most cases is in the form of radiation or chemotherapy and in some cases surgical treatment is necessary.
Stage 2 lung cancer:
In the second stage of lung cancer, the cancerous cells spread to the surrounding structures. It invades the lymph nodes, the diaphragm, the lung lining and the outer covering of the heart. This stage is also again divided into stage II A and II B. Sub classification again depending on the size of the tumor and depending on the bronchus involvement. At this stage too, the treatment would include that of radiation therapy alone or in combination with chemotherapy and in certain cases surgical treatment is done.
Stage 3 lung cancer:
This stage is much invasive. The cancerous cells at this stage have invaded the space between the heart and the lungs. The lymph node involvement has also taken place. Cancer cells at this stage have involved the lower neck area. Due to the involvement of all these structures this stage of lung cancer is known as the locally advanced stage.
This stage is again sub divided. The stage III A is that in which the cancer cells have invaded the lymph node on the side on which the cancer started. This stage can be treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or it can be treated surgically
Stage III B is that stage in which the cancer cells have invaded the lymph node on the opposite side from where the cancer started. This stage of lung cancer cannot be treated surgically. At this stage the possible treatment of cancer includes radiation therapy, chemotherapy or any other forms of targeted therapies.
Stage 4 lung cancer:
This stage is the most critical stage of lung cancer. The cancer cells have invaded the entire lung. Surgical treatment is impossible at this stage. A combination of radiation and chemotherapy is generally done to treat lung cancer at this stage. Targeted therapies can also be done to treat stage IV lung cancer.
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