Is Stage 4 Lung Cancer Curable?
By Madeline May |
Lung cancer patients are often diagnosed during the advanced stages, such as stage 4. This late diagnosis often impacts a patient's treatment options and survival rate.
Can Stage 4 Lung Cancer Be Cured?
In 2020, lung cancer caused 1.80 million cancer deaths worldwide, the leading cause of cancer deaths that year. Sadly, most patients are diagnosed with lung cancer in the advanced stages, such as stage 4. Consequently, patients’ treatment options and survival rates can look drastically different than those diagnosed in the early stages.
After receiving a stage 4 lung cancer prognosis, many patients are unsure of what to expect. Although there is no cure, there are treatment options available to patients in later stages of lung cancer aimed to prolong life and make it more enjoyable.
How Long Can You Live with Stage 4 Lung Cancer?
Although many patients receive a poor prognosis during stage 4, there is still a life worth living. Lung cancer patients will often be given the amount of time that they have left where they can then plan both curative and palliative treatments to help them live longer. Once your prognosis is determined you will better understand your life expectancy.
Several factors help determine the survival rates of stage 4 lung cancer. Characteristics such as stage, metastasis, weight loss, performance status, sex, and lung illnesses all affect the survival rate of lung cancer patients.
|Stage of Lung Cancer||2-Year Survival Rate (% Alive 2 Years Later)*|
|Stage IVA||23 percent|
|Stage IVB||10 percent|
|Stage of Lung Cancer||5-Year Survival Rate (% Alive 5 Years Later)*|
|Stage IVA||10 percent|
|Stage IVB||0 percent|
Stage 4 Lung Cancer Survival Rate by Age
As aforementioned, age is a contributing factor to a patient’s survival rate. Typically, older age is linked with a poorer prognosis as these patients generally are in poorer health and have weaker immune systems.
|Age Diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer||Survival Rate|
|Under 50||11 percent|
|Ages 50-64||7 percent|
|65 and Older||4.7 percent|
What is Stage IV Lung Cancer?
There are 4 stages of lung cancer labeled I through IV (1-4). Stage IV is the most advanced stage of lung cancer. However, most patients are diagnosed either in stage 3 or 4.
In stage IV, cancer tumors have metastasized from the original lung to the other. Additionally, cancer during this stage may exist in locations of the body such as the heart, chest, lymph nodes, pericardium, and other areas.
There are a few subcategories of metastatic stage 4 lung cancer.
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Non-small lung cell cancer (NSCLC) is different from small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) as it typically grows slower. Approximately 90% of lung cancer diagnoses are NSCLC.
During this stage, the cancer cells have metastasized to the second lung and into the space holding fluid around the lungs or heart. Additionally, at least one lymph node on the second lung or chest has been affected.
In stage IVB, the tumors can vary in size. Typically, more than one tumor has metastasized outside of the chest and into distant organs and areas of the body.
Small Cell Lung Cancer
SCLC is considered an extended stage and is classified separately from NSCLC.
Stage IV – Extended
Lung cancer tumors have metastasized to other areas of the chest, lymph nodes, the other lung, bone, brain, or bone marrow during this stage. Around two of three people diagnosed with SCLC are in the extended stage.
What Does Terminal Lung Cancer Mean
During stage 4, patients will receive a unique prognosis that will determine their next steps such as treatment options and projected survival rates.
Patients diagnosed during the fourth stage frequently experience a different prognosis than those diagnosed in earlier stages. Because the cancer is fully developed, there are fewer treatment options therefore, the stage 4 lung cancer prognosis is less favorable.
Additionally, the median survival time for those with stage 4 lung cancer is four months, meaning that 50% of patients will be alive only four months after their diagnosis. Sadly, this means that most patients experience a terminal stage 4 lung cancer prognosis.
What Does Stage 4 Lung Cancer Do to the Body?
Lung cancer can have many effects on the body both mentally and physically. There are several symptoms that a patient may encounter during their fight against stage 4 lung cancer.
- Back and abdominal pain
- Excessive coughing
- Coughing up blood, Hemoptysis
- Fatigue or weakness
- Growth in neck or collarbone
- Breathing issues
- Loss of breath
- Little appetite
In addition to the physical effects of lung cancer, the disease can have detrimental effects on a patient’s mental health. Lung cancer patients may experience a wide range of intense emotions. Conditions such as anxiety and depression can take over the mind of a cancer patient.
Therefore, a patient should surround themselves with a strong support system. Whether reaching out to family and friends or seeking support groups, it is essential to feel supported, worthy, and loved.
Is There Any Treatment for Stage 4?
Lung cancer treatment can come in several forms depending on how a patient and the medical professional choose to fight cancer.
Treatments for lung cancer often include:
- Targeted therapies
However, during stage 4 of lung cancer, the options are often beyond curative methods. Instead, a health professional may recommend palliative treatment to ensure a patient’s comfort.
Palliative treatments help patients manage symptoms, pain, and side effects. Palliative treatments can include:
- Cough suppressants
- Counseling and emotional support
- Massage therapy
- Pain management medication
- Nutritional supplements
- Mindfulness practices
How Many Chemo Treatments for Stage 4 Lung Cancer?
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment used to treat lung cancer by injecting medicine into the blood. For advanced cancer stages, like stage 4, chemotherapy treatments are given differently than in earlier stages.
Medical professionals give chemotherapy in cycles, with each treatment followed by a rest period. Chemotherapy can have detrimental effects on the body, so the rest period is essential to maintain a patient’s physical and mental health. These chemo cycles are typically 3 or 4 weeks long, depending on the drug administered. Each chemotherapy medicine schedule will look different.
Typically, for advanced lung cancer, initial chemotherapy treatment lasts for 4 to 6 cycles. Additionally, some medical professionals may recommend an additional treatment such as a targeted drug if the patient responded well to initial treatment. This additional treatment is often referred to as maintenance therapy to help people live longer.
Stage 4 Lung Cancer Treatment Near Me
Choosing a team of health professionals and where to receive treatment is an important decision for a lung cancer patient. However, it can be difficult to find the right doctors in an area near you.
Picking the right cancer doctor can be difficult as there are many options. However, it is an important decision that should be made with care and time. A cancer patient should feel comfortable and confident with their medical professional. Choosing a cancer center or hospital located in your area can relieve stress and worry when thinking about if your diagnosis is curable. Reach out today to help us ease the burden.