Treatment of cancer of the non-small cell lung (NSCLC) is usually successful when the disease is in its early stages. It is located in the lungs and can be removed through surgery. According to its location and extent of lung tissue that has been affected, a surgeon may perform a wedge resection, Lobectomy or pneumonectomy. Unfortunately, a large percentage of cases are not detected until the disease has spread beyond the lungs. It is a process called metastasis. Once it occurs, surgery alone is insufficient to cure the condition.
In this article, we will explain how the lung cancer spreads to other parts of the body. You will discover the use of medical treatment options to resolve the disease along the way.
Beginning of metastases
With NSCLC, tumours are composed of cancer cells. Finally, these cells detach from the tumor and travel in other parts of the body. They may do so through the lymphatic system (part of the immune system), or through the blood of the patient.
When lung cancer is discussed in the context of the lung, talking to a primary tumor or the primary cancer. When it is discussed in the context of the areas outside the lungs, it is called a secondary cancer. For example, if NSCLC has spread to the brain, a surgeon can refer to it as “brain cancer secondary to lung” rather than “cancer of the brain.” This is the fact that metastasis has occurred and indicates the site of origin of the disease.
When cancer cells spread lymph nodes
First place in which migrate cells of lung cancer is the lymph nodes. The cells are provided by the lymphatic system. In many cases, this is not necessarily metastasis as the cells can migrate during the early stages of the disease. Once the cancer cells have reached the lymph nodes, however, they can be spread by other areas of the chest.
This spread is rarely captured by doctors, because it is often absent from the symptoms. When NSCLC is detected in the lymph nodes, chemotherapy is generally used to treat it.
Cancer of the Lung in the bone
Metastasis to the bone is common and affects an estimated four out of ten people with late stage NSCLC. While the disease can be spread to the bones anywhere in the body, common sites include the thighs, the basin and the spine. The patient will experience pain, which aggravates the progress of the disease. It is common for people to confuse pain for mild sports injuries as the muscle strains.
At the time where the lung cancer has reached the bone, it grew to the point that the treatment is to relieve the symptoms rather than cure the disease. Radiation therapy is usually the preferred option. The patient will also receive medication to help alleviate the pain.
When the disease reaches the brain
Many people who suffer from cancer of late stage lung is also meeting with metastases to the brain. This can cause several side effects such as headaches, convulsions and loss of coordination. The symptoms of NSCLC who has reached the brain are similar to the side effects of a stroke.
Treatment may include several options, including surgery, chemotherapy and stereotactic radiotherapy. This last option is to deliver a high dose of radiation to specific parts of the brain tissue.
Cancer cells in the liver.
NSCLC in the liver often detected by accident, represents an advance of late phase of the disease. By the time cancer cells reached the liver, the condition is generally deemed to be in step 4. It does often produce no symptoms other than those which the patient has already. Other times, the patient may feel nausea and pain under ribs.
As with NSCLC which spread to the bone, treatment of disease of the liver is designed to reduce symptoms. Surgery is rarely made at this stage.
Metastasis of cancer cells of the lungs in other parts of the body is an indication that surgery alone cannot cure the disease. If you think that you have NSCLC, consult your doctor to discuss the most appropriate treatment options.
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