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 air passages. Two types of lung cancer exist: small lung cancer and non-small lung cancer. Small lung cancer grows and spreads faster and only about 10 percent of lung cancer are 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 IIIA Lung Cancer
Stage III lung cancer is divided into two sections, A and B. In stage IIIA, cancer has made its way to the body’s lymph nodes on the same side of the tumor. At this stage, the tumor 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 IIIB Lung Cancer
In stage IIIB, the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes above the collarbone or to the opposite side of the body. During stage IIIB, the cancer may also have spread to the heart, inferior vena cava and the aorta, chest wall, diaphragm, trachea and the sternum or esophagus.
Life Expectancy for Stage III
The five year survival rate for someone who has stage III lung cancer is 10 percent. This rate decreases 24 percent from Stage II. However, factors such as tumor 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 five-year survival rate for metastasized lung cancer (which is identified as stage IV) is 3 percent. Like other cancers, early diagnosis will increase life expectancy. Treatment also influences survival.