As with other cancers, there are different types of lung cancers and each has its own stages. There are two different types of lung cancer, which are, small-cell lung cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer. After you’re diagnosed with this type of cancer, your oncologist will examine which of the two types you have, what stage you are in, and how best to treat the malignancy. To do this, the physician uses the TNM/G system:
To know every little detail of your cancer, oncologists use the following system:
- Tumor: How big is the tumor, and where is it located – and has it already spread – in or nearby the lungs?
- Nodes; Has cancer already spread to nearby lymph nodes?
- Metastasis: Has cancer already spread to other parts of the body?
- Grade: How malignant and/or aggressive is the tumor?
Small-Cell Lung Cancer
After they’ve examined your cancer extensively, and they know it’s small-cell lung cancer, they will put you in the stage limited stage or extensive stage. If your cancer is in the limited stage, it means it’s just in one lung and may be in nearby lymph nodes. Fortunately, it hasn’t spread to your other lung or even passed that! If the oncologist tells you that you’re in the extensive stage, it means that cancer has spread to other areas in your lungs and maybe even beyond that. Small-cell lung cancer is a less common type of lung cancer, most people get diagnosed with non-small-cell lung cancer.
Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer
After they’ve examined your lung cancer extensively, and they know it’s non-small-cell lung cancer, they will put you in one of the following five stages:
|Cancer cells are only in the lining of the lung and have not spread to nearby tissue.
|Cancer is in the lung only and the tumor is small (less than 3 cm)
|Cancer is in the lung only and the tumor is larger (3-5 cm)
|Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes but the tumor is still small (less than 3 cm)
|Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and the tumor is larger (3-5 cm)
|Cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the middle of the chest and/or the area between the lungs but is still only on one side of the body.
|Cancer has spread to lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest, above the collarbone, or to other organs in the chest such as the heart or esophagus.
|Cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, bones, or brain.
|Cancer has spread to both lungs, the fluid around the lungs, or to distant organs such as the adrenal glands.
This table is a brief overview, to make it more clear. Please know that the meaning of each stage and substage can vary per person. Continue reading on the next page for more information about lung cancer treatment options.