Types and Stages Of Lung Cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC) are the two major types of lung cancer. About 80 to 85% of diagnosed cases of the disease are attributed to NSCLC and the remaining 10 to 15% to SCLC.

Once diagnosed, a doctor will try to determine how much cancer has spread; this process is known as staging.  Different stages of the disease describe how much cancer is in the body and can help doctors to decide on suitable treatment options.

The staging system most commonly used for NSCLC is the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM system.  There are four stages which include:

Stage 1- Cancer is found only in the lungs and has not spread to lymph nodes.

Stage 2 – Cancer is found in the lungs and surrounding lymph nodes.

Stage 3- Cancer is found in the lungs, lymph nodes, and in the middle of the chest.

Stage 4- Cancer is found in the lungs, fluid in the area around the lungs, as well as other parts of the body and other organs.

The stages of SCLC are based on the results of biopsies, physical exams, imaging tests or any additional form of testing used to determine how far this type of cancer has advanced. Doctors typically use a two-stage system to help them to decide which form of treatment is best.  The stages of SCLC are:

Limited Stage- This is when cancer is found in only one side of the chest and in the lymph nodes above the collarbone – on the same side of the chest.

Extensive Stage- This describes when cancer has spread to lungs, the lymph nodes and other parts of the body.

Treatment for each type of lung cancer varies by stage.   Typical approaches for NSCLC may include surgery, radiation, immunotherapy or chemotherapy.  Radiation or chemotherapy are the most common types of treatment used for patients diagnosed with SCLC.

Smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products contribute greatly to the development of lung cancer. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of developing this deadly disease.

If you are ready to quit smoking, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center provides a free smoking cessation program. To learn about our Freedom From Smoking program please call, 718-206-8494 or visit www.JamaicaHospital.org.