Lung Cancer – Types & Stages

World-Class Cancer Treatment Center in Pasadena, CA

At Pasadena CyberKnife Center, we are committed to helping our patients overcome cancer no matter what type or stage they’re suffering from. We’re proud to use the CyberKnife System, a state-of-the-art cancer treatment that uses advanced technology to deliver high-dose radiation with sub-millimeter accuracy, providing an effective cancer treatment with minimal side effects. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer for both men and women, but with early detection and treatment, there is hope – but the treatment plan depends on the type and stage of lung cancer.

Types Of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer falls into three main category, and the treatment plan we design for you depends on which type you’re diagnosed with:

  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): Accounting for 80% to 85% of cases, this is the most common form of lung cancer by far. This form usually grows and spreads more slowly than others. Within NSCLC, there are four common subtypes:
    • Adenocarcinoma: Adenocarcinoma is the most common form of lung cancer for both men and women, accounting for 40% of all cases diagnosed in the US. While it’s common in former and current smokers, it’s also the most common form for nonsmokers. Adenocarcinoma has gland-like properties, and it begins in cells that make up the lining of the lungs.
    • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This form begins in the squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that line the inner airways of the respiratory system. It’s also a very common form of lung cancer, making up about 25-30% of diagnoses.
    • Large Cell Carcinoma: Accounting for 10% of diagnoses, this form can appear anywhere in the lung, and is faster-growing than other forms of NSCLC, making early treatment critical.
    • Large Cell Neuroendocrine Tumors: While this type of cancer accounts for only 2% of lung cancer diagnoses, it’s also the fastest-growing form.
  • Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC): This form of lung cancer grows and spreads far faster than NSCLC. This form is a neuroendocrine tumor with smaller cells than most other cancers, and under a microscope, it looks something like tiny oats – so it’s commonly called “oat cell” cancer. Making up about 15% of diagnoses, this form is generally caused by cigarette smoking. While radiation therapy may be an option for this form of cancer, chemotherapy is still the most commonly used treatment.
  • Metastatic Lung Cancer: This term applies to any form of lung cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, usually through the lymph system or or the blood. Metastatic cancer is usually one of the most advanced and serious forms, which means swift treatment is essential.

Stages Of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

Each type of NSCLC has different stages and forms of progressions, but they’re all classified using the TNM methodology, which stands for tumor, node, and metastasis. Generally, the cancer advances in stage as the size of the tumor increases, the number of lymph nodes infected increases, and the cancer metastasizes.

  • Stage 0: At this point, the cancer is non-invasive and the tumor is very small. Stage 0 cancer also stays in place (in situ) and hasn’t yet spread deeper into the lungs.
  • Stage I: This includes lung cancer with a small tumor that may have spread deeper into the lung, but has yet to affect a lymph node or any other parts of the body. Surgery is often effective at this stage.
  • Stage Ia: At this point, the tumor is less than 3cm across.
  • Stage Ib: This is a tumor between 3cm and 5cm across.
  • Stage II: Stage II cancer is divided into two substages, and at this point, surgery may or may not be an effective remedy.
  • Stage IIa: This applies to a tumor between 5-7cm across that has yet to spread to the lymph nodes. Alternatively, Stage IIa cancer can apply to a tumor that is less than 5cm wide, but has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage IIb: This applies to a tumor between 5-7cm across that has spread to nearby lymph nodes. Stage IIb cancer also applies to a tumor larger than 7cm wide that has not spread to lymph nodes. The tumor may also partially block airways at this stage.
  • Stage III: Stage III lung tumors are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to remove surgically. Stage III tumors may have spread to the lymph nodes or may have grown into nearby structures within the lung. At this stage, it’s unlikely that surgery can completely remove the cancer because the tumor needs to be taken out in pieces.
  • Stage IV: By this point, surgery isn’t generally a successful treatment option. If Stage IV cancer has spread into the lymph nodes above the collarbone, the fluid around the lung, or vital structures such as the heart, blood vessels, or airways, it may be impossible to remove. If it spreads to blood, it may the metastasize to the adrenal glands, liver, bones, or brain.
  • Stager IVa: This applies to cancer that has spread to areas within the chest.
  • Stage IVb: At this point, the cancer has spread outside of the chest to other areas of hte body. This is the most serious form of lung cancer.
  • Recurrent: This term applies to cancer that has already been treated, but returns to the originally infected place. More testing is needed to determine the stage of recurrent cancer.

Stages Of Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

SCLS has only two stages:

  • Limited Stage: This applies to cancer that has only infected one half of the chest, spreading through only one part of the lung and nearby lymph nodes.
  • Extensive Stage: This applies to SCLC that has spread throughout other areas of the chest or the body.

Contact Your Pasadena & Los Angeles, CA Cancer Treatment Center

Lung cancer is a serious condition, and receiving a diagnosis for you or one you love is a difficult and trying experience. That said, rest assured: there is hope. At Pasadena CyberKnife Center, we’ve assembled a world-class team of radiation oncologists, doctors, and cancer specialists, and we harness some of the most advanced technologies in the world in our cancer treatments. No matter how serious your condition or what type and stage of cancer your are facing, the team at Pasadena CyberKnife Center is committed to your health. If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, don’t wait – call us at 626-768-1021 or reach out to us at our contact page today.