Affiliation: The University of Pennsylvania Medical School
Last Modified: February 27, 2008
What are the lungs?
What is lung cancer?
- Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) - the rarer of the two types (about 20% of all lung cancers), small cell lung cancer is more aggressive than non small cell lung cancer because is grows more quickly and is more likely to spread to other organs
- Non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) - the more common of the two types (80% of all lung cancers), non small cell lung cancer is generally slower growing than small cell lung cancer and is divided into three different types based on how the cells look that make it up - adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma
Am I at risk for lung cancer?
How can I prevent lung cancer?
What screening tests are available?
What are the signs of lung cancer?
- cough (especially one that doesn't go away or gets worse in character)
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- coughing up blood or bloody phlegm
- new onset hoarseness or wheezing
- recurrent problems with pneumonia or bronchitis
- weight loss
- loss of appetite
- bone pain
- dizziness or double vision
- numbness or tingling in your arms or legs
- turning yellow (jaundice)
How is lung cancer diagnosed and staged?
Small Cell Lung Cancer - divided into two stages
- Limited Stage - means the cancer is on only one side of the chest (lung and/or lymph nodes), so it could be reasonably treated with a radiation field
- Extended Stage - means the cancer is on both sides of the chest (spread to both lungs and/or lymph nodes on both sides of the body) or spread outside of the chest to other areas of the body, so it could not be reasonably treated with a radiation field
Non Small Cell Lung Cancer - divided into four main stages
- Stage IA- the tumor is less than 3 cm, isn't in a main bronchus, and hasn't spread to any lymph nodes
Stage IB - the tumor doesn't invade any organs, isn't too close to the trachea if it is in the main bronchus, doesn't cause obstruction of the lung, and hasn't spread to any lymph nodes
- Stage IIA- the tumor is less than 3 cm, isn't in a main bronchus and has spread to lymph nodes on the same side as the tumor
Stage IIB - the tumor doesn't invade any organs, isn't too close to the trachea if it is in the main bronchus, doesn't cause obstruction of the entire lung but has spread to hilar lymph nodes on the same side as the tumor.
- Stage IIIA - the tumor can have spread to different types of lymph nodes than Stage II (called mediastinal or subcarinal), but they are still on the same side as the tumor and it hasn't invaded any vital organs
Stage IIIB - the tumor has either invaded vital adjacent organs and/or spread to lymph nodes on the other side of the mediastinum as the tumor, or specific lymph nodes called scalenes or supraclavicular. Also, the patient may have tumor spread to the fluid surrounding the lung
- Stage IV- the tumor has spread (metastasized) to other organs in the body outside the lungs (like the bones, brain or liver)
What are the treatments for lung cancer?
Targeted Therapies/Biologic Therapies
- Adjei, A.A., Marks, R.S., Bonner, J.A. (1999) Current Guidelines for the Management of Small Cell Lung Cancer. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 74(8), 809-816
- The American Cancer Society All About Lung Cancer Overview www.cancer.org.
- Bunn, P.A. & Kelly, K. (2000) New Combinations in the Treatment of Lung Cancer: A Time for Optimism. Chest, 117(4) Supplement 1, 138S-143S
- Lippman, S.M. & Spitz, M.R. (2000) Lung Cancer Chemoprevention: An Integrated Approach. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 19(18S) Supplement, 74S-82S
- Marcus, P.M.(2000) Lung Cancer Screening: An Update. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 19(18S) Supplement, 83S-86S
- National Cancer Institute. What You Need To Know About Lung Cancer. www.cancer.gov.
- Rubin, P. and Williams, J.P., (Eds): Clinical Oncology: A Multidisciplinary Approach for Physicians and Students 8th ed. (2001). W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.