The things you need to know about Stage 4 lung cancer
There is hardly any cancer diagnosis that is pleasant news to the ears. But depending on the type of cancer and the stage, some prognoses are better than others. Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer all over the world and it also tops the mortality charts. Stage 4 lung cancer represents the most advanced stage of lung cancer. To be honest, the prognosis of any patient diagnosed at this stage would have been much better if the disease had been caught earlier. A sudden diagnosis of cancer at this stage would come as a shock particularly if there were no warning signs earlier. The individual would undoubtedly need to make a lot of life adjustments but it doesn’t represent the end of the world. If you are determined to live your life to the fullest, you can still find happiness even under the grueling circumstances that typically succeed a Stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis.
The basis for lung cancer stages
Lung cancer stages are usually represented by a combination of letters and numbers. The physician fits your cancer into a stage based on the following factors:
- The width of the tumor
- The location of the tumor
- Whether there is only one tumor in the long or multiple tumors in the same long
- If the tumor is causing any significant blockage of the airways
- If the tumor has metastasized, that is, spread to other organs
What typifies stage 4 lung cancer?
As mentioned earlier, stage 4 lung cancer represents the most advanced stage of the disease. Parameters such as width and location do not really count here because the tumor has spread to other organs in the body. Vital organs such as the brain and liver may be affected already. Unfortunately, many patients do not know they have lung cancer until it has reached this stage. Information from cancercenter.com reveals that about 4 out of 10 patients of non-small cell lung cancer patients are diagnosed at this stage.
Symptoms of stage 4 lung cancer
The regular symptoms that are associated with lung cancer are also present in stage 4 cancer. They include:
- Persistent and worsening cough
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing and wheezing
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Persistent pain that becomes worse on laughing, coughing or even taking a deep breath
- Recurrent respiratory infections
Other symptoms that might be experienced depend on how far the tumor has spread and where.
Prognosis of stage 4 lung cancer
The prognosis of cancer at this stage isn’t very encouraging because of the other organs that are already involved. According to the American Cancer Society, patients diagnosed with stage 4 cancer have a 5-year survival rate of less than 10%. Simply put, less than one in 10 of the patients live for more than 5 years after the diagnosis. But this doesn’t mean the diagnosis is a death sentence. Some treatment options are still available and the quality of life of the patient can be greatly improved with the treatments.
Treatment options for Stage 4 lung cancer
The most common treatment approach for stage 4 lung cancer is chemotherapy. Because the cancerous cells are already present in other organs, a surgical removal of the tumor is impossible here. Immunotherapy can also be used as a secondary approach to the treatment of stage 4 lung cancer. Adjunct treatments are also administered to manage the cancer symptoms which would become more prominent as the disease progresses. These adjunct treatments are necessary to maintain the quality of life of the patient.