Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) Treatment in NJ, CT, and MD

The most common form of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) occurs when malignant cells form in the lung tissue, leading to various symptoms. The committed oncologists and hematologists of Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA) have the expertise and compassion to deliver state-of-the-art care to people with non-small cell lung cancer. In fact, patients throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area trust these experienced physicians to offer the latest evidence-based treatments for all solid tumors, blood-based malignancies, and benign blood disorders.

What Is Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer?

Oncologist reviews a non-small lung cancer diagnosis with a patient

There are two main types of lung cancer — small cell and non-small cell. In patients with non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC, the cells are large and tend not to grow as fast as they do in small cell lung cancer (SCLC). However, in many cases, cancer has already spread to other parts of the body – or metastasized – by the time the condition is diagnosed. When lung cancer has metastasized, treatment outcomes are not as favorable as they are with localized NSCLC, which makes early diagnosis of the condition critical. 

There are several types of NSCLC. The three most common types are:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma: This type develops in the thin, flat cells that line the inside of the lungs
  • Large cell carcinoma: This formmay originate in any part of the lung where large cells reside
  • Adenocarcinoma: This type typically begins in the cells lining the alveoli on the outer part of the lung

Stages of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

After diagnosing a patient with lung cancer, a physician will conduct staging, which involves assessing the location of cancer cells and the extent to which they may have spread. The following are the six stages of non-small cell lung cancer:

  • Occult stage: Cancer cells are found only in sputum or samples taken from the passageways leading to the lungs.
  • Stage 0: Abnormal cells are found on the surface of the lung tissue but have not spread further.
  • Stage I: Cancer cells are small and exist only inside the lung.
  • Stage II: The tumor is large, but the cancer has not spread beyond close lymph nodes.
  • Stage III: The cancerous cells are large and may have spread to nearby tissues and lymph nodes.
  • Stage IV: Cancer cells from the original tumor have moved to other parts of the body via the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

Symptoms of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer does not always produce symptoms, particularly in its early stages. However, persistent coughing and shortness of breath are the two most frequent signs of the disease. Other non-small cell lung cancer symptoms include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fatigue
  • General breathing issues
  • Hoarseness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swelling in the face or veins of the neck
  • Wheezing

Risk Factors for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Smoking is the most significant contributor to development of NSCLC, but other risk factors include:

  • Other medical conditions: Some diseases and disorders increase the likelihood of a person developing non-small cell lung cancer. These include pulmonary fibrosis and HIV/AIDs.
  • Environmental factors: People who frequently breathe in polluted air or drink water with a higher level of arsenic are at elevated risk for lung cancer.
  • Chemical exposure: Some elements, including asbestos, radon, chloride, formaldehyde, metal and mineral dust, and particular alloys, increase the chances of contracting non-small cell lung cancer.

Diagnosing Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

If physicians believe a person may have non-small cell lung cancer, they will order several tests to make an accurate diagnosis. The following are some tests they may use to determine whether a patient has the disease:

  • Laboratory tests (blood work, urinanalysis)
  • Chest x-ray
  • CT scan
  • Biopsy of lung tissue or fluid
  • Bronchoscopy to view inside the airways

Treating Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

About 63% of people with the early-stage NSCLC live five years or more after their diagnosis, but this percentage drops substantially as cancer advances. Early detection and treatment are key to enabling people to live longer with this cancer. Treatments for non-small cell lung cancer include:

  • Surgery: Often the first treatment option with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer, surgery may involve removing just the tumor, a lobe of the lung, or a larger part of the lung.
  • Chemotherapy: Patients receive intravenous or oral drugs that kill malignant cells.
  • Immunotherapy: Withimmunotherapy, patients take medications that harness the power of the body’s immune system, enabling it to find and kill cancer cells. 
  • Radiation therapy: This treatment employs high-energy X-rays to eliminate malignant cells or impede their growth.
  • Targeted therapy: Th is treatment approach makes use of drugs designed to attack cells with specific genetic mutations that contribute to the development and spread of NSCLC.

Find Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Patients with non-small cell lung cancer can rely on the expert, highly experienced medical oncologists of Regional Cancer Care Associates for cutting-edge, compassionate care. Those cancer specialists serve patients at 25 community-based care centers across New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area. To learn more about cancer treatment, contact Regional Cancer Care Associates or visit one of the locations to schedule an appointment.