Stage IV Lung Cancer With Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) Rearrangement
What Is Stage IV Lung Cancer With Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) Rearrangement?
This type of lung cancer is rare, and it often happens to people who aren't smokers. Although there isn't a cure, there are treatments for it that can slow down your cancer and help you feel better.
"Stage IV" means that the cancer has spread beyond the lung where it started. It may be in your other lung, too, or in the fluid around your lungs, or somewhere else in your body.
The "ALK rearrangement" part of the name is about a gene called ALK. If you have this type of lung cancer, your ALK gene got rearranged and joined with another gene. This causes cancer cells to grow and spread.
Chest pain that often hurts more with coughing, laughing, or deep breaths
Hoarseness or voice changes
Harsh, raspy sounds when you breathe
Weight loss, little appetite
Coughing up blood or mucus
Shortness of breath
Feeling weak or tired
Lasting lung problems, like bronchitis or pneumonia
If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, your symptoms may include:
Dizziness or balance issues
Numbness or weakness in an arm or leg
Jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes)
Getting a Diagnosis
First, your doctor will talk with you so that he understands what's been going on. He'll ask questions like these:
When did you first notice problems?
How have you been feeling?
Are you coughing or wheezing?
Does anything make your symptoms better or worse?
Do you, or did you, smoke?
Has anyone in your family had lung cancer?
To learn more, your doctor may give you tests, including:
CT scan: This can show lung problems and swelling of the arteries.
MRI: This scan helps show blood flow and can help locate cancer growths.
PET scan: This imaging test uses radioactive material to look for signs of cancer.
Sputum test: It checks for cancer cells in the mucus you cough up.
Bronchoscopy: It looks at your airway with an instrument called a bronchoscope.
Ultrasound: This type of test uses sound waves to create a picture of what’s happening inside you.
Thoracoscopy: This scan looks at the lungs using a tiny camera.
If your doctor sees something he thinks could be lung cancer, he will check by getting a tiny piece of it called a biopsy. He will use a very thin needle or surgery for that. He may also take a sample from nearby lymph nodes to check for cancer cells that may have spread.
Your doctor will work with a team to get the exact diagnosis and come up with a plan to take care of you.