Staging is vital when treating all cancer types because it tells physicians what options are available to patients. With lung cancer, the disease manifests in two main types — small cell and non-small cell — each with different staging. At Regional Cancer Care Associates, experienced oncologists and hematologists are skilled in treating multiple cancers and blood disorders, including lung cancer. These doctors are dedicated to delivering patient-centered care to individuals in New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Most people who develop the disease either have small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) or non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Small cell lung cancer makes up a much smaller percentage of all lung cancers than non-small cell lung cancer. However, it tends to be more aggressive and spreads faster. Well over three-quarters of all lung cancer cases are of the non-small cell variety. This type of lung cancer also has several sub-types, including:
The five-year survival rate for non-small cell lung cancer is significantly higher than for small-cell lung cancer. With non-small cell lung cancer that does not travel outside the lung, the five-year survival rate is 64%, compared to 29% for small cell lung cancer. For both cancers, the 5-year survival rate drops substantially — to 8% and 3%, respectively — once the disease reaches other parts of the body. For this reason, early detection and treatment are essential for patients with lung cancer to experience better outcomes.
Using staging, doctors can gauge the progression of the disease to make the best choice of treatment. The primary method for staging lung cancer is called TNM classification. The T refers to the size and location of the tumor, the N indicates whether cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and the M refers to metastasis — or spread to other organs. Here is how staging differs between small cell and non-small cell lung cancer:
Small cell lung cancer has two stages, limited and extensive. Limited stage means the cancer is present in one lung and has spread only to regional lymph nodes, if at all. The extensive stage indicates the tumor has moved to the other lung or other areas of the body, such as the brain.
Non-small cell lung cancer consists of four main stages, plus two initial stages that occur before cancer has become more prominent. These stages are:
Both types of lung cancer can cause a variety of symptoms During the early stages of disease, a patient may not have any noticeable symptoms. If they do, however, they might experience one or more of the following:
As lung cancer progresses and tumors develop in other parts of the body, signs and symptoms of the disease change. These indicators will differ based on where the cancer has spread. Some symptoms patients may encounter include:
Lung cancer can affect any person, but certain factors can increase the likelihood a person developing the disease. Smoking is the biggest contributor, but other risk factors that heighten the chances a person will have lung cancer include:
Regional Cancer Care Associates uses cutting-edge techniques to treat small cell and non-small cell lung cancer. The following are some treatments oncologists provide to patients:
Patients with lung cancer who wish to know more about staging and the latest treatment options can rely on the oncologists and hematologists of Regional Cancer Care Associates. These physicians provide comprehensive, cutting-edge, and compassionate care at 25 community-based care centers throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area. Visit one of these locations to learn more about lung cancer treatment.