Lung Cancer Diagnosis


The stages of non-small cell cancer are:

  • Occult stage: Cancer cells are found in sputum, but no tumor can be found on x-rays.
  • Stage 0: Cancer is only found in a local area and only in a few layers of cells. It has not grown through the top lining of the lung. Another term for this type of lung cancer is carcinoma in situ.
  • Stage I: The cancer is only in the lung, and normal tissue is around it.
  • Stage II: Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes within the lung or to the surrounding chest wall.
  • Stage III: The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the area that separates the two lungs (mediastinum); or to the lymph nodes on the other side of the chest or in the neck. Stage III is further divided into stage IIIA (occasionally can be operated on) and stage IIIB (usually cannot be operated on).
  • Stage IV: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Recurrent: Cancer has come back (recurred) after previous treatment.

The following stages are used for small-cell lung cancer:

  • Limited stage: Cancer is found only in one lung and in nearby lymph nodes. (Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that are found throughout the body. They produce and store infection-fighting cells.)
  • Extensive stage: Cancer has spread outside of the lung where it began to other tissues in the chest or to other parts of the body.
  • Recurrent stage: Recurrent disease means that the cancer has come back (recurred) after it has been treated. It may come back in the lungs or in another part of the body.

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