I chose the topic of lung cancer to educate those about the final stages of lung cancer. Lung cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer. Men, women, and sometimes children can be affected from lung cancer. There are no definitive cures for lung cancer but there are treatments to control it and stop it from spreading. With the medical and technological advancements that have been made in the past decade, doctors can increase the length of one’s life who has been diagnosed with cancer. There are four stages of lung cancer, I will be focusing on the final two stages.
THE FINAL STAGES OF LUNG CANCER There are many causes of lung cancer, one of the most common being cigarette smoking. Lung cancer can also be caused by occupational exposures, including asbestos, uranium, and coke an important fuel in the manufacture of iron in smelters, blast furnaces, and foundries. The combination of asbestos exposure and smoking greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer (American Lung Association). Other causes of lung cancer include exposure to cancer-causing agents in the workplace or personal or family history of lung cancer (Nan).
Whether the causes of cancer, there are a few different forms and stages of the disease. A few of the most common forms of lung cancer in men is Squamous Cell Carcinoma, which is a cell formation on the lining of the bronchial tubes and the most common form of lung cancer for women is Adenocarcinoma which forms in the mucus-producing glands of the lungs (Medical News Today). Of the 4 stages of lung cancer, Stage 3 and 4 are the most crucial and most life threatening. Survival rates do not reflect differences in individuals. In addition, keep in mind that not everyone with a particular stage of lung cancer has the same prognosis.
Staging lung cancer can help guide treatment, but there is a wide spectrum of cancers within each stage. People with stage 3 lung cancer will survive 23% out of 100% but this varies widely among different cancers that are classified as stage A3 or B3. As goes for stage 4 the overall 5-year survival rate is sadly less than 10%. The median survival time is about 8 months (Elridge, Stage). According to the National Cancer Institute, one out of every 14 Americans will be diagnosed with lung or airway cancer in their lifetime. In 2009, there were more than 219,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States.
During stage 3, cancer is found in the lung and in the lymph nodes in the middle of the chest, also described as locally advanced disease. Stage 3 has two subtypes: If the cancer has spread only to lymph nodes on the same side of the chest where the cancer started, it is called stage A3. If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest, or above the collar bone, it is called stage B3 (LungCancer. org). The symptoms are shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and reoccurring infections like bronchitis and pneumonia (About. com Lung Cancer).
The cancer cells during this stage can also spread to areas such as the chest wall and diaphragm can result in pain in the chest, ribs, shoulders, and back. Tumors located near the airways can cause hemoptysis and wheezing. When the tumor involves areas such as the esophagus and other chest structures, dysphagia and hoarseness can occur. Pain in the back, chest, and ribs is common if a pleural effusion is present, and this can result in increasing shortness of breath (About. com Lung Cancer). General symptoms of cancer such as fatigue and rapid weight loss may be present as well.
There are a few different ways to treat stage 3 A or B lung cancer. In most stage 3A and 3B lung cancer cases, surgery can be performed to remove the tumor, and is usually followed up with adjuvant chemotherapy *see glossary*. In most cases, the tumor is considered inoperable. For those who are relatively healthy, a combination of chemotherapy or chemotherapy and radiation therapy is often recommended. If individuals are unable to tolerate chemotherapy, radiation therapy can be used alone to treat symptoms such as pain and shortness of breath.
(About. com Lung Cancer). Keep in mind the body’s reaction to chemotherapy, radiation, or targeted treatments depends on a number of factors such as length of treatment, dosage prescribed, and a person’s health history. Most side effects are short term, but some can last throughout your treatment and even for some time afterward. Although side effects can be uncomfortable or painful, doctors now have many ways to reduce and even prevent Stage 4 is the most advanced stage of lung cancer, and is also described as advanced disease.
This is when the cancer has spread to both lungs, to fluid in the area around the lungs, or to another part of the body, such as the liver or other organs (Lungcancer. org). With stage 4 lung cancer, surgery is typically not an option since the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body. (Nan). Unfortunately, there are very few if any other symptoms of stage 4 lung cancer. Stage 4 lung cancer is treatable. In those who are able to tolerate chemotherapy, both traditional chemotherapy and/or the newer targeted therapies may improve survival and help with the symptoms of lung cancer.
Many clinical trials are in progress looking at combinations of chemotherapy and targeted therapies. Radiation therapy may be recommended as a palliative therapy. This can be helpful for some people to control bone pain due to tumors spreading to bone, bleeding from the lungs, tumors that are obstructing the airways and causing shortness of breath, or brain metastases that are causing significant symptoms, such as headaches or weakness (Elridge, What). Previously I explained the life expectancy of stage 4 lung cancer, sadly people diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer die within the first year they are diagnosed.
This stage has advanced throughout the body and there is barely to any cure at this stage. CONCLUSION Stages 3 and 4 lung cancer are the final most crucial stages of lung cancer. With very little to no treatments or care for these stages, the best thing to do is to be there with the one who is diagnosed. Mental and emotional support are vital at these last stages. Lung cancer is a very serious cancer with the medical and technological advancements doctors are coming out with, hopefully one day they can find a cure for lung cancer. GLOSSARY.
Adjuvant Chemotherapy- Adjuvant therapy is a term used to describe the role of therapy relative to other cancer treatments. Dysphagia- Difficulty with swallowing is the sensation that food is stuck in the throat, or from the neck down to just above the abdomen behind the breastbone (sternum). Hemoptysis- is the expectoration (coughing up) of blood or of blood-stained sputum from the bronchi, larynx, trachea, or lungs (e. g. , in tuberculosis or other respiratory infections or cardiovascular pathologies). Palliative Therapy – which is a therapy that is done to control symptoms but does not result in a cure
Pleural Effusion- A pleural effusion is a buildup of fluid between the layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity. Monseur 13.
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