The stage of a tumor refers to the extent to which lung cancer has spread in the body. Staging involves both evaluation of a tumor's size, as well as the presence or absence of metastases in the lymph nodes or in other organs. Staging is important for determining how a particular tumor should be treated. Staging of a tumor is also critical in estimating the prognosis of a given patient, with higher-stage tumors having a worse prognosis than lower-stage tumors.
Doctors use several tests to accurately stage lung cancer, including blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, bone scans, and PET scans. An abnormal blood chemistry test may signal the presence of metastases in the bone or liver. Radiological procedures document the size of a tumor, as well as its spread to other organs.
Chemotherapy is being used in new ways to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NCSLC). Until a few years ago, only patients with late-stage lung cancer received chemotherapy to help prolong life. Now, chemotherapy is given at earlier stages, in addition to other treatments, to slow the progression of cancer and to help cure the disease.
“Chemotherapy has dramatically improved in the last decade,” says George R. Simon, MD, FACP, FCCP, director of thoracic oncology Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia...