When a person is diagnosed with lung cancer, the prognosis often looks grim. However, new treatment options are improving survival rates.
When lung cancer reaches stage 4, it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant parts of the body, according to the American Cancer Society. This type of cancer is also known as metastatic lung cancer, and patients in this stage typically have a poorer prognosis.
While the survival rate for non-small cell lung cancer in stage 4 is low, many people with this disease live longer than expected thanks to advancements in medical science. The key to survival is finding the best treatments to reduce side effects and improve quality of life.
The survival rate for stage 4 lung cancer can vary depending on what type of lung cancer a person has. It can also be affected by other factors, including the patient’s age and overall health at the time of diagnosis. People with healthier immune systems tend to fare better than those who are already weakened by chronic illnesses such as heart or lung conditions.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, and its prognosis at this stage is generally worse than that for small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC can be divided into a number of subtypes, with some having different survival rates.
Stage 4 lung cancer life expectancy also depends on whether the cancer is limited or metastatic. Stage 4a NSCLC has spread to the pleural fluid around the lungs, pericardial fluid surrounding the heart or as a solid tumor to the bones or liver. Stage 4b NSCLC has spread as a solid tumor to multiple areas outside the lungs or to lymph nodes near the lung of origin.
Some treatment options for this stage include chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy and targeted or immunotherapy therapies. Some doctors may also try a procedure called pneumonectomy, which involves surgically removing one lung and the tumors that are in it.
Patients with this advanced stage of cancer can also benefit from support services to help cope with symptoms and emotional stress. Talk therapy and other types of supportive care can make a difference for some individuals, especially when accompanied by palliative care.
It’s important to remember that survival rates are based on research from years ago and don’t necessarily reflect a person’s exact situation. Having a positive attitude, taking good care of yourself and seeking out help when you need it can all contribute to a more hopeful outlook for the future. The most important thing is to surround yourself with a supportive network. This can be as simple as reaching out to family and friends or joining a support group. It can also mean seeing a counselor or therapist who has experience working with cancer patients. A strong support system can help you manage the emotions that come with a terminal diagnosis and keep your focus on living as long as possible.