Tech4Cancer – Stage 4 lung cancer is advanced lung cancer. It means this cancer has spread from the lung where it originated to some other parts of your body. Lung cancer is one of the serious cancer types, and the stage is categorized by how widespread this cancer is in your body. The higher the lung cancer, the more severe the lung cancer will become. The cancer cells may spread to other parts of your body via the lymph system and the blood. They will travel to the adrenal glands, the brain, the liver, and the bones.
Causes of lung cancer
Smokers have a high possibility of suffering from lung cancer. The bad news is that both smokers and those exposed to smoke can suffer from this cancer. Lung cancer may happen in people who have never smoked. Working in a polluted environment may increase your risk of developing lung cancer. Smoking a cigarette will damage the cells in your lungs. When you inhale your cigarette, you will start to change the lung tissue. We can find cancer-causing substances in cigarettes too. If you want to lower your possibility of getting this cancer, you should stop smoking and you need to choose to stay in a healthy environment too. So what are some risk factors for lung cancer?
- You who smoke a cigarette
- You are the ones who are exposed to secondhand smoke.
- Those of you who take radiation therapy
- Those of you who are close to radon gas exposure,
- Those of you who have been exposed to carcinogens and asbestos
- Those of you who have parents or siblings of a child with this lung cancer can increase the risk of this lung cancer.
When you are confused about your stage of lung cancer, there are some symptoms of stage 4 lung cancer that you must know.
The symptoms may look similar at any stage, but the following lung cancer symptoms are more likely to occur when cancer becomes worse.
- You lose your appetite
- You experience coughing with blood.
- You experience the worst cough
- Unstable weight loss
- Weakness and fatigue
- Chest pain when you are laughing, breathing and coughing.
- Breath difficulty
- Bronchitis infections
When your cancer cells have spread to other body parts, you may experience some other symptoms, including:
- Weakness, dizziness, headaches, seizures, and also balance issues
- You may experience jaundice if your cancer cells spread to your liver.
- You feel pain in your bones in your hips and back.
- You experience swollen lymph nodes in your neck.
How to Diagnose Stage 4 Lung Cancer
When you experience some of the symptoms above, you need to visit your doctor. There are various tests, scans, and procedures that you must take to know whether you suffer from lung cancer or not. Doctors will analyze the cancer signs and then verify the diagnosis to know cancer’s stage too. There are some procedures to diagnose your lung cancer, including
- MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging scan. By doing this scan, you will see detailed images of yourself inside your body. This procedure will help to determine whether the lung cancer has spread to your spinal cord and brain.
- A CT scan This procedure is similar to having an MRI scan to check your inside body. It helps to discover whether your cancer has spread to the liver, adrenal glands, lymph nodes, brain, or other parts of your body.
- PET scan This procedure will help you to show the exact location of your cancer cell. Before you undergo this procedure, you will receive a small injection of a substance. This substance is called “radioactive sugar.” This radioactive sugar will travel throughout your body to find the location of your cancer cell.
- Bone scan This procedure is used to detect whether your lung cancer has reached your bones or not. This scan is similar to a PET scan in that you will need a radioactive sugar injection before you do this scan. This substance will detect whether your lung cancer cells exist in your bones or not.
Two Types of Stage 4 Lung Cancer
There are two types of stage 4 lung cancer that you must know about. First, you may experience stage 4a of lung cancer, and second, you may suffer from stage 4b of lung cancer. You can get detailed information about Stage 4A and Stage 4B here.
In Stage 4A, doctors can find different sizes of tumors. This cancer cell may not spread to the lymph nodes. For example, the common cases of 4A lung cancer include:
- The cancer cells have spread to your lungs and heart.
- The cancer cell has spread only in one location, such as the second lung.
- There are additional tumors in your lung.
How about in Stage 4B?
When you are in stage 4B, the cancer cells are widespread in multiple places in your organs and far away from your lungs. This type of lung cancer will need different treatments. Today, it is common to find people with this type of lung cancer. Unfortunately, Stage 4B is more difficult to treat, and there is a lower chance for you to survive when you suffer from this stage of lung cancer.
The Life Possibility for Stage 4 Lung Cancer
How about the survival rate for those of you who suffer from stage 4 lung cancer? Lung cancer is not a simple disease. It is a very serious disease, especially when you are in stage 4. It will be difficult to treat, and it has a low survival rate. Most people may survive five years with lung cancer in stage 4, but it will depend on some factors too. The rate of survival will depend on the treatments and the patient’s lifestyle too. Although it offers you a lower survival rate, you should not give up when you suffer from this cancer. You still need to believe that you can be free from cancer with some treatments. You can still consult with your doctor and then choose the treatment you need.
Treatments for Stage 4 Lung Cancer
Treatment for stage 4 lung cancer will be very challenging since it is difficult to treat. At this stage, cancer cells spread quickly and have the potential to spread to other vital organs. That is why doctors need to be careful in treating their patients. Before choosing the treatment, you need to consider some things, such as:
For those of you who have experienced serious lung cancer, you need to ask your doctor what to expect from the treatment that you are taking.
You can get a second opinion from another doctor to ensure that you choose the right treatment that is needed.
You can ask your doctor first about some of the benefits of the treatment and the side effects that you will experience when you take it. It is important to ask how the treatment will impact your health and your well-being.
Some factors will influence the treatment option to choose, like the patient’s preferences, the type of cancer, the spread of cancer and its location, the underlying gene changes or mutation of your cancer cell, symptoms of cancer, and the overall health of the patient.
You can find four treatments for stage 4 lung cancer, including
When you undergo surgery, your surgeon will work to remove the cancer cells and healthy tissue. Some procedures for removing lung cancer include:
- Wedge resection is a procedure to remove just a small section of the lung that contains the tumor cell or cancer cell.
- Segmental surgery, or a procedure to eliminate a larger part of your lung that contains the cancer cell,
- A lobectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the entire lobe of one of your lungs.
- Pneumonectomy: a procedure to remove all parts of the lung
Before you take this treatment, you need to consult with your doctor. Your doctor will usually recommend that you take radiation therapy and chemotherapy before you undergo this surgical procedure.
When you take chemotherapy, the drugs used to kill the lung cancer cells will also kill you. The drugs may be injected into your arm veins, or they may be taken orally. You may use a combination of drugs depending on your condition. The chemotherapy treatments will be given for some weeks or months. This treatment can be combined with other treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy. This treatment may also be used before you have surgery to make the cancer cells easier to remove.
Immunotherapy will use the immune system to kill and fight lung cancer. Your body’s immune system will fight the cancer cell because the cancer cell produces proteins. This treatment will work by interfering with the production of proteins. This treatment is suitable for people who suffer from locally advanced lung cancer and some other types of cancer that have spread to other organs of their body.
- Targeted therapy
This treatment is done by using drugs, and it focuses on the specific abnormalities of your cancer cells. This therapy will work by blocking the abnormalities and making the cancer cells die. This treatment is good for people who suffer from certain genetic mutations. Your cancer cells will be tested first in the laboratory before you take this treatment. It will be used to decide whether drug therapy is working or not.
- Radiation therapy
This treatment uses high-powered energy like X-rays to kill the lung cancer cells. When you take this treatment, you need to lie on a table, and then the machine will move around you. Radiation can be used before surgery, or it can also be used after surgery. Your doctor may combine two treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This radiation treatment is suitable for those who have lung cancer that has spread to all areas of their body. It will help you reduce some pain.
Palliative Care and Other Treatments
You can also take palliative care for your lung cancer. Supportive care or palliative care is needed to work together with other treatments to minimize lung cancer symptoms and signs. Your doctor will recommend that you meet with the palliative care team after your doctor diagnoses your cancer. It is needed because you need to feel comfortable during the treatment and after the treatment.
This palliative care is essential because it can improve your mood and quality of life. When you take palliative care, you may increase your survival rate. You can join a support group to increase your mood during treatment and therapy. You can speak to your counselor to help you deal with your condition.
In some cases, you may get side effects from some therapies and treatments that you do. There are some other treatments that you can choose, such as modern homeopathy and detoxification. You need to change your lifestyle and start to have a healthy diet. It helps you reduce mortality and morbidity. You need to ask your doctor about the treatment dose and what you should do in your home during your stage 4 lung cancer treatment.