The final stage, or the stage 4 lung cancer is an irreversible condition, where the cancerous cells have spread to other healthy organs in the body. Through this article, let us have an overview on the last stage and its ill effects…
Owing to unhealthy lifestyle practices, man has been afflicted with a number of infections and diseases. Some of these diseases may not be serious in nature and can be cured with the help of timely treatment. However, there are a few diseases, which cannot be treated since there is no cure for them as yet. One such disease is cancer, which may affect individuals of any age group or race. Cancer can affect any organ in the body, from where it spreads to other parts of the body.
A Precise Overview of Lung Cancer
According to a recent survey, lung cancer has claimed many victims, when compared to other cancers. As discussed above, it is one of the deadliest types of cancer ever known to man. Men are more prone to contracting this cancer, in comparison to women, the main reason being smoking. The lungs are one of the vital organs of the respiratory system, with the function of providing oxygen to the entire body. Being the most exposed organs, lungs are susceptible to all kinds of infections and diseases. The first occurrence of cancerous cells is in the inner lining of the lungs. The cells grow in an uncontrolled manner at an abnormal pace and affect the alveoli or air passage of the lungs.
Depending on the nature and size of the cancerous cells, this lung disease can be categorized as small cell and non small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) develops in the central areas of the lungs, from where they metastasize in an aggressive manner to other parts. On the other hand, in non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the cancer appears as tumors and is also known as carcinoma. Non small cell carcinoma is more malignant than the other cancer, and is the main killer. There are four different stages, among which stage 4 is the most harmful stage, which cannot be reversed. Lung cancer can be caused due to several factors like smoking (both active and passive), inhaling carcinogenic fumes, high levels of air pollution and drinking water contaminated with arsenic, etc.
The toxins in the body trigger the growth and development of the cancerous cells. A failure to keep a track of this abnormal cell growth may progress into the final stage, which is life-threatening and can even prove to be fatal due to the absence of proper treatment methods. Some other factors which may lead to cancer are a excessive intake of alcohol, suffering from lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and having a family history of this disease. The reason that makes lung cancer fatal is that it spreads to the brain, bones, adrenal glands and liver. This widespread metastasis leads to several other complications, rending it useless to undergo treatment, since there is no definite cure as yet.
Stage 4 Lung Cancer Symptoms
The staging is based on the symptoms exhibited by this deadly disease during its progression in the body. Since the early signs are very misleading, this life-threatening disease is only detected when the symptoms have become severe. Given below are some of the symptoms of carcinoma of the lungs.
- Coughing, in some cases with traces of blood, accompanied by chest pain is one of the early symptoms. The cough may even turn into a chronic cough. Some individuals may also experience difficulty in breathing, especially while lying down.
- A heavy feeling on the chest, as if someone has placed a heavy stone, can also be felt. Difficulty in swallowing and a burning sensation in the wind pipe are also one of the indications.
- There is a moderate pain noticed in the sternum (or the breast bone), which can become severe and may radiate towards the shoulders, neck and back. Hoarseness in the throat and voice change can also be observed in individuals who are in the final stage of lung cancer.
In the final phase, the cancer has metastasized from the chest to other organs in the body. Diagnostic tests like a chest X-ray, blood tests, biopsy, where a tissue sample is analysed by the pathologist to determine the severity of the condition, etc. The individual may also have to undergo CT, MRI and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans. Once all the diagnostic tests have been conducted, the doctor will proceed towards the treatment and prognosis of stage 4 lung cancer.
Symptomatic treatment right from the time of diagnosis is essential to treat the cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation are administered to destroy the cancerous cells and curb their development. Surgical removal of the diseased part cannot be carried out in stage 4, because surgery is not effective at stage 4. As far as prognosis and life expectancy is concerned, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration.
Factors such as the age and overall health of the individual, extent to which cancer has spread, the patient’s response towards the treatment administered, age, gender, etc. all play a key role in the prognosis of the last stage. Stage 4 lung cancer survival rate is unfortunately very low. Only 5 to 10% of people in stage 4 of SCLC (small cell lung cancer) live up to 5 years. In the NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer) type, only 10 to 15% people are found to live up to five years. As compared to other cancers, the prognosis of stage 4 lung cancer is lower.
With the advancement in modern medicine, the stage 4 life expectancy of the patient can be prolonged to a certain extent. Remember, the patient suffering from lung cancer requires proper care and attention and also support to fight against this lethal disease. Take care!