In the United States, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among males and females. Lung cancer is more fatal than colon, prostate, lymph and breast cancers combined each year. Symptoms do not arise until the cancer is advanced, causing a chronic cough, chest pain, wheezing, hoarseness and shortness of breath. Lung cancer forms in the lung tissue in the cells lining the air passages. Two types of lung cancer exist--small lung cancer and non-small lung cancer. Small lung cancers grow and spread faster. Only about 10 per cent of lung cancer is small lung cancer.
Stages of Lung Cancer
There are four stages of lung cancer. Stages represent the process used to identify the spread of the cancer. Knowing the stage assists with determining proper treatment. The three ways cancer spreads in the body are through the tissue, lymph system and blood. The process of the spread is called metastasis. Lung cancer consists of four stages.
Stage 3A Lung Cancer
Stage 3 lung cancer is divided into two sections, A and B. In stage 3A, cancer has made its way to the body's lymph nodes on the same side of the tumour. At this stage, the tumour can be any size. Other places in the body the cancer may have spread to include the main bronchus, chest wall, diaphragm, pleura around the lung and membrane around the heart. The lung may also have collapsed or developed inflammation.
Stage 3B Lung Cancer
In stage 3B, the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes above the collarbone or to the opposite side of the body. During stage 3B, the cancer may also have spread to the heart, inferior vena cava and the aorta, chest wall, diaphragm, trachea and the sternum or oesophagus.
Life Expectancy for Stage 3
The 5-year survival rate for someone who has stage 3 lung cancer is 10 per cent. This rate decreases 24 per cent from Stage 2. However, factors, such as tumour characteristics, age, gender and overall health, also play significant roles in life expectancy.
Overall Lung Cancer Life Expectancy
Three out of every five people, with all stages of the cancer, will die within a year of diagnosis. The 5-year survival rate for metastasised lung cancer (which is identified as stage 4) is 3 per cent. Like other cancers, early diagnosis will increase life expectancy. Treatment also influences survival.