Stage 3 Lung Cancer

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Stage 3 lung cancer refers to non small cell lung cancer, which is divided into four stages. Stage 1 is the early stage in which a small tumor is discovered in one lung. Surgery is the preferred mainstream treatment because there is hope of removing all the tumor and any localized cancerous tissue.

Recently, the issue of the use of chemotherapy after surgery at this early stage was settled by two studies that showed chemo improved survival. The combination of surgery to excise the tumor in the lung and chemo to prevent the growth of cancer cells elsewhere in the body proved to be valuable to the patient's lung cancer prognosis. Once the early stages advance to stage 3 lung cancer, however, questions about treatment depend on what lymph nodes are involved, and how extensive the tumor has become.

Stage 3 Lung Cancer Treatments

If, for example, a lung tumor has reached any vital organ such as the heart, surgery is probably not an option. A combination of radiation and chemotherapy may be used to shrink the tumor so surgery can be performed. This combination may also be used with patients who have other diseases or health problems that preclude surgery.

If a surgery candidate has emphysema or other lung disease, tests in addition to those that are normally run before surgery will be conducted to make sure the patient can successfully undergo an operation. There are several surgery techniques that are employed, but the most common is a lobectomy, which involves removing the entire lobe of the lung affected by the cancer. Stage 3 lung cancer is perilously close to end stage lung cancer--stage 4--and it requires judgment calls as well as the best mainstream treatment available.


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