Inoperable Lung Cancer

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Inoperable lung cancer refers to any stage of cancer in which surgery would not be an effective treatment, or in which the patient's health would not allow for an operation. There are many medical situations that preclude surgery to remove the cancerous tumor, but the most common is the advanced nature of the lung cancer. Unfortunately, symptoms appear and diagnoses are frequently made only in the later stages of lung cancer.

Small cell lung cancer treatments usually consist of chemotherapy. This aggressive cancer is almost never diagnosed until it is in the extensive stage, which is end stage lung cancer. Surgery is used to excise a tumor and remove surrounding tissue, if necessary. Once the cancer has invaded other organs or spread via the bloodstream, surgery is ineffective.

Treatment for Inoperable Lung Cancer

For non small cell lung cancer, stage IV is inoperable lung cancer. This type of lung cancer is more slow-growing, so the chance of a patient developing symptoms so a diagnosis can be made early enough for successful treatment, is better. Still, many diagnoses are not made until the cancer has developed into stage III or IV.

In stage IV, the cancer has metastasized (spread); it may have invaded other organs, or affected the heart, or the tumor may have consumed lobes of the lungs and decreased the ability to breathe. At any rate, there is no longer a small, localized tumor that can be removed by surgery, so it has become inoperable lung cancer. Chemotherapy is the only hope at this point, for the drugs attack abnormal cells wherever they have lodged in the body.

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