Stage 3 lung cancer describes one of the four main stages of the progression of lung cancer. Stage 3 lung cancer is divided into two different types: one type is contained on the same side of the body as the original tumour, and the other is more invasive and aggressive. Individuals suffering from stage 3 lung cancer experience a number of characteristic symptoms. While there are several treatment options available, the prognosis is generally poor.
Stage 3A Lung Cancer
In stage 3A lung cancer, the original cancer has metastasised, or spread, to lymph nodes located on the same side of the body as the original tumour. This form of lung cancer is the more easily treated with surgical removal of the the growths than stage 3B.
Stage 3B Lung Cancer
Stage 3B lung cancer is characterised by the spread of the original cancer to any lymph node within the body and invasion of tissues in other body systems, such as the cardiovascular or digestive system. Stage 3B lung cancer sufferers also experience a build-up of fluid in the lungs that greatly impairs their ability to breathe.
The most common symptoms of stage 3 lung cancer include fatigue; a nagging cough; difficulty breathing normally and easily; coughing up blood; unexplained weight loss; pain in the chest, shoulders and back; a suddenly hoarse voice; and susceptibility to respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
There are three main treatments for stage 3 lung cancer: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. More effective treatments usually involve combinations of these three, the most common being surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible, followed by chemotherapy, or chemotherapy and radiation treatment done in conjunction.
The prognosis of both stage 3A or 3B lung cancer is poor: neither has a five-year survival rate that is greater than 25 per cent. The prognosis of stage 3B lung cancer is worse, with only 10 per cent of sufferers surviving to five years post-diagnosis.