The stages in which lung cancer can exist are numerous; it is through these stages that doctors use to know how critical the disease is. And also to determine the most effective treatment that should be given. The stages of lung cancer is used to refer to the extent to which the cancer tumor has spread in the body.
There are two main types of lung cancer namely, non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Below is the general layout of the stages of lung cancer.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Non-small cell lung cancer involves the following stages:
- Hidden Stage: In the hidden stage of lung cancer, the tumor is difficult to be detected. The cancer cannot be seen by any test or scanning equipment. The cancer cells can be found in mucus coughed up from the lungs.
- Stage Zero: In stage zero of non-small cell lung cancer, abnormal cells begin to form in the linings of the wind-pipe. The abnormal cells turn out to form tumors and spread to nearby lung tissues.
- Stage One: Stage one of non-small cell lung cancer is further divided into two stages, they are stage1A and stage1B. Stage 1A of non-small cell lung cancer is the stage in which the cancer tumor is just with in one part of the lung, the cancer has not spread to other parts of the lung. In stage 1B, the cancer has spread from the lung to other areas around the lung such as the bronchus, and innermost layer of the lung lining.
- Stage Two: Stage two of non-small cell lung cancer is subdivided into two stages which are stage2A and stage2B. Stage2A of non-small cell lung cancer is the stage in which the cancer has spread to innermost layer of the membrane of the lung lining. In stage 2B, the cancer has increased in size and spread to the diaphragm, and also to the lining of the chest wall. There is probability that it has spread to the lymph nodes on the same side of the chest.
- Stage Three: Stage three of non-small cell lung cancer is further divided into two stages namely stage3A and stage3B. Stage 3A non-small cell cancer has spread to the nerves that controls the diaphragm, spread to the chest wall, membrane around the heart, major blood vessels that leads to and from the heart, sternum, trachea, esophagus, and nerves that controls the larynx. In stage3B, there may be different lobes of the same lung. The whole lung may have collapsed or developed pneumonitis.
- Stage Four: In stage four non-small cell lung cancer, the cancer has spread to the other lung on the other side of the chest, and also to the lymph nodes and to other parts of the body such as the brain, liver, kidney, bones etc.
Small cell lung cancer: Small cell lung cancer involves two stages called limited stages and extensive stage.
- Limited Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer refers to cancer that is just located in the lung and lymph nodes, but it has not spread beyond the lung.
- Extensive Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer is the stage in which the cancer has spread beyond the two lungs to other parts of the body such as the bones, adrenal gland, kidney, liver etc.