Stage Four Lung Cancer

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Stage four lung cancer refers to the most advanced stage of non small cell lung cancer. There are two kinds of lung cancer, small cell and non small cell. Small cell is only divided into two phases because it is so aggressive and, therefore, is almost always diagnosed in the extensive, as opposed to limited, stage.

Non small cell, which grows more slowly, is classified in four stages. Roman numerals are used to designate these stages: I, II, III, IV. Stage one is the earliest phase of the cancer, and surgery is usually the preferred standard treatment because the tumor is small and can be completely removed. In stages two and three, treatment depends more on the size and location of the tumor.

Stage Four Lung Cancer Treatment

In stage two, more than likely the tumor is still operable, and chemotherapy may be used before or after the surgery. If before, it might be employed in order to shrink the tumor so it is operable. In stage three, combinations of surgery, if possible, and radiation and chemotherapy will be considered.

Stage four lung cancer is inoperable lung cancer because the cancer has spread and is no longer a small tumor localized in one lung. In this phase, non small cell lung cancer treatments are limited to chemotherapy because it can kill abnormal (and normal) cells wherever they are found in the body. This will also be the treatment of choice if cancer recurs after surgery or radiation; it is treated as if it were stage four lung cancer. The five year survival rate for stage four is less than one percent.

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