There are two main types of lung cancer - NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer) and SCLC (small cell lung cancer). Stages of lung cancer are based upon whether the tumour is localised or has spread from lungs to lymph nodes and other organs.
Since, lungs are large organs; tumours get the opportunity to grow in them for a long period of time before they get detected. Even when symptoms begin to appear like coughing, fatigue or pain, people tend to overlook them. Therefore, stages I and II (early stage lung cancer) is difficult to get detected. Hence, mostly people with lung cancer are diagnosed at later stages (stages III and IV).
This type of cancer accounts for about 85 % of lung cancer cases. There are various types of this type of tumor:
Stage I : When the cancer is located only in the lungs and has not yet spread to lymph nodes or adjoining tissue
Stage II : The cancer has spread to the lung and nearby lymph nodes
Stage III : The cancer spreads in the lung and reaches lymph nodes in the middle of the chest, also known as locally advanced disease. Stage III has two subtypes - stage III A & stage III B.
Stage IV : This is the advanced or final stage of lung cancer, when the cancer spreads to both lungs, into the fluid found in pleura or to other parts of the body such as the liver or other organs.
This type of cancer accounts for the remaining 15 % of lung cancers. This type usually results from smoking and grows & spreads more rapidly to other parts of the body than non-small cell lung cancer. Thankfully, it is also more responsive to chemotherapy.
There are 2 stages of this type of cancer.
Limited stage : Cancer is found only on one side of the chest, involving only one part of the lung and some nearby lymph nodes.
Extensive stage : Cancer spreads to other regions of the chest or other parts of the body.
Early detection of lung cancer plays a vital role in effective treatment of the disease. Staying away from risk factors such as smoking and tobacco usage and getting regular medical checkups is the key to catching the diseases in initial stages.
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