Understanding How Quickly Lung Cancer Spreads

How Quickly Lung Cancer SpreadsLung cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and according to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 229000 people in the United States received lung cancer diagnosis in 2020. This accounts for over 1 in 8 new cancer diagnoses. Over the period of time, cancer may spread to other parts of the body. Today, we are trying to find the answer to the question that how fast can lung cancer spread? Though there is no definitive answer to it but a cancer’s behavior vary greatly depending on its type, location, stage and various other factors. It is important to note that every cancer is different on a molecular level. Every cancer grows at a different rate.

There are two types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). It has been found that SCLC usually grows and spreads faster as compared to NSCLC. To get an idea about how fast lung cancer grows, it is useful to consider biology of cancer cell growth. After a series of mutations in genes, the normal lung cell becomes a cancer cell and this, results in cells behaving differently than normal cell. Such mutations accumulate over a significant period of time and not all cells divide at the same time. Also, the growth can also be different at different stages of development. When cancer grows, the cells develop further mutations that can change the behavior of tumor.

To measure the growth of lung cancer spread, researchers consider tumor doubling time and specific growth rate. This rate is calculated as change in volume of tumor in a certain period of time. Currently, there are no tests to tell how long a lung cancer has been growing. The rate of cancer growth and spread varies from person to person and lung cancer is one of the fast-growing cancers.


The information shared in this blog is for educational purposes only. If you need any medical advice, please contact your healthcare practitioner.


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