Lung cancer has progressed from an obscure disease to one of the most common cancer in the world. Lung cancer is divided into various stages;
- Localized disease
- Regional disease, and
- Advanced disease.
Early cancer is a stage 1 and 2 lung cancer; regional cancer is stage 3 lung cancer and advanced cancer is stage 4 cancer. Patients with stage 1 and 2 lung cancer will have a good prognosis. Stage 3 lung cancer is intermediate, and the lymph nodes are involved. Stage 4 lung cancers are advanced cancer.
Once the patient is diagnosed with lung cancer, the next step will be staging. Staging helps doctors in predicting the prognosis of the patient and helps in deciding the treatment plan, which is a very important step.
Types of lung cancer:
Lung cancer is divided into types – small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. These two types of cancer comprise about 95% of all lung cancers, the remaining 5% are very rare tumors.
- Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC): mainly occur in the central part of the lung and these are aggressive tumors that spread very fast. Small cell lung cancers are mainly staged in two types. i) Limited stage SCLC and ii)extensive SCLC. SCLC comprises only 10% of all lung cancer and apart from this 80 to 90% of lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancer.
- Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): They are staged by Tumor lymph Node Metastasis (TNM) staging, in which cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Stages and Survival Rates:
Once the patient is diagnosed with lung cancer, based on the tumor size, involvement of nodes, and spread of disease elsewhere in the body, they will be given staging. NSCLC is staged from stages 1 to 4 and these stages are further subdivided into 1A and 1B. Depending on the stages, doctors can predict the prognosis. Stage 1 is the early-stage cancer and stage 4 is metastatic, where spreading of the tumor occurs. Stage 1 lung cancer has a better survival rate, better prognosis, good treatment, and the patient has 5-year survival rate above 70%. Stage 1A lung cancer has 5 year survival rate ofupto 92%, stage 2 patients have a survival rate of 50-70%, the survival rate of stage 3 patients is 30-40% and stage 4 patients have 5-year survival rate of less than 10%.
Here, one can understand the importance of early detection.Earlier the stage of lung cancer, better the survival.