My initial diagnosis was based on the following facts:
About 40% of NSCLC patients are diagnosed when they are in Stage IV. How does this stage differ from other stages? In Stage IV, the cancer has spread, or metastasized, beyond the lungs into other areas of the body. Stage IV presents a bigger challenge to the doctor than the other stages.
In Stage IV, the cancer has spread into both lungs or more distant parts of the body. Stage IV is the diagnosis when one or more of the following is true: (1) there are one or more tumors in both lungs; (2) cancer is found in fluid around the lungs or the heart; and/or (3) cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the brain, liver, adrenal glands, kidneys, or bone. In the TNM system, and coding that ends in a 1 (M is 1) is a Stage IV lung cancer.
About 40 percent of all patients with non-small-cell lung cancer are diagnosed at Stage IV. Because lung cancer does not have a distinct group of symptoms, the patient may mistake their early symptoms for other, less serious illnesses. This is why patients are encouraged to discuss with their doctors all possible sources of exposure to materials that cause lung cancer. By the time the patient sees a doctor, the lung cancer may already be well advanced.
Stage IV non-small-cell lung cancer produces symptoms that can include shortness of breath, persistent coughing, coughing up of blood, pain in the upper body, wheezing, hoarseness, and frequent bouts of bronchitis. Patients in the advanced states of lung cancer are also susceptible to pneumonia. These are symptoms of many diseases, so the doctor may not be immediately suspect cancer.
Additional symptoms can include problems swallowing, pain in the hips or ribs, vision problems, muscle weakness, headaches, or seizures. Physicians use blood tests and chest imaging to narrow down their search, and a biopsy to establish a definitive cancer diagnosis. Imaging techniques such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans are useful in determining which stage the cancer is in. http://www.lung-cancer.com/staging2.html
Doctors consider the age and overall health of the patient when choosing a treatment plan. Treatment options for Stage IV non-small-cell lung cancer may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Radiation therapy is used mainly for palliative purposes, rather than an intention to cure.
Each year, more people in the United States die from lung cancer than from breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancers combined. In 2005, there were 159,217 reported lung cancer deaths in the United States. While lung cancer prevalence is lower worldwide than in the US, lung cancer is also the leading cause of cancer death around the world. Approximately 1.3 million people die from the illness each year.
The high death rates associated with lung cancer are partially due to the fact that it is notoriously difficult to treat. For this reason, lung cancer survival rates are fairly low. Below is a review of lung cancer survival rates by time, level of cancer progression and type of lung cancer.
Five Year Survival Rate for NSCLC Patients
- Stage IA: 49%
- Stage IB: 45%
- Stage IIA: 30%
- Stage IIB: 31%
- Stage IIIA: 14%
- Stage IIIB: 5% (median survival of 13 months)
- Stage IV: 1% (median survival of 8 months)
For more information about lung cancer:
The Lung Cancer Alliance:
Lung Cancer Answers:
National Cancer Institute
Breast Cancer Organization:
National Breast Cancer Foundation: