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A lung cancer diagnosis brings with it several unique factors. It is the second most common type of cancer in both men and women, and the deadliest type of cancer. This could be because the symptoms of lung cancer are not very unique and so it is often not diagnosed until later stages, after it has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body. Even before it spreads, tumors in the lungs are unique in that they can move up to two inches during radiation treatment. That’s why CyberKnife is so effective in treating lung tumors. With CyberKnife, the radiation oncology experts at Alaska CyberKnife can target only the cancerous cells and track the tumor as it moves. CyberKnife can also be used in conjunction with surgery and other treatment methods at all stages of tumor development.

Stages Of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

As in other cancers, doctors use the TMN criteria to help determine the stages of lung cancer.

  1. Tumor – Indicates the size of the tumor and if it is invading nearby structures.
  2. Node – Indicates whether or not the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
  3. Metastasis – Indicates whether or not cancer has spread to the rest of the body.

Doctors assign levels for each of the above factors and then combine these levels into stages. They stages of lung cancer are:

  • Stage 0 – This is a non-invasive cancer when the disease is very small, remains in place (in situ), and has not spread into deeper lung tissue or to other surrounding tissue.
  • Stage I – A lung cancer that includes a small tumor that might have spread into the underlying lung tissue, but that has not spread to any lymph nodes in other parts of the body.
    • Stage Ia – The tumor is less than 3 cm in size
    • Stage Ib – The tumor is between 3 and 5 cm in size
  • Stage II – There are two substages of Stage II cancer.
    • Stage IIa – In this stage, the tumor is between 5 cm. and 7 cm. and has not spread to nearby lymph nodes OR the tumor is less than 5 cm. and HAS spread to nearby lymph nodes.
    • Stage IIb – If the tumor is between the 5 cm. and 7 cm. but it HAS spread to nearby lymph nodes, it is considered Stage IIb. Or, if the tumor is larger than 7 cm. wide but has not spread to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage III – Stage IIIa lung cancers and almost all of stage IIIb cancers include a tumor that is difficult, sometimes impossible, to remove. The lung cancer may have spread into the lymph nodes in the center of the chest, but outside the lung. Or, the tumor might have grown into nearby structures in the lung. It is less likely, in these cases, that the surgeon can completely remove the cancer because it has to be taken out piece by piece.
  • Stage IV – Surgery is not usually appropriate for most Stage III or Stage IV lung cancers. If the cancerous cells have become Stage IV and have spread to lymph nodes above the collarbone or if the cancer has grown into fluid surrounding the lung or vital structures within the chest like the heart, large blood vessels, or primary airways, it can be impossible to remove. If the cancer spreads to the blood, it can travel to the brain, bones, liver, and adrenal glands.
    • Stage IVa – Cancer has spread within the chest.
    • Stage IVb – Cancer has spread outside the chest to other parts of the body.
  • Recurrent – This stage of cancer is used when the cancer returns to the originally infected place after treatment. Once that happens, doctors run more tests to establish a current stage.

Stages Of Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

  • Limited stage: There are cancerous cells found on just one side of the chest, affecting only one part of the lung and nearby lymph nodes.
  • Extensive stage: Cancer has spread to other areas of the chest or other parts of the body.

Lung Tumor Types

Your CyberKnife cancer center experts will base your cancer on several factors, including the type of cancer your are diagnosed with. There are three types:

  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) – By far the most common type of lung cancer, 80% to 85% of diagnosed lung cancer is attributed to this type. NSCLC usually grows and spreads at a slower rate than other types of cancer. Some tumors are made up of cells from more than one type of NSCLC, but the most commonly diagnosed types of NSCLC are:
  • Adenocarcinoma – This type of cancer has gland-like properties and begins in early versions of the cells that make up the lining of the lungs. It is the most common form of cancer for both men and women in the U.S., making up about 40% of those diagnosed with lung cancer. It occurs most often in smokers or former smokers, but it is also the most common type of cancer in nonsmokers and younger people.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma – Cancer begins in the thin, flat cells that line the inside airways of the respiratory tract. It accounts for about 25% to 30% of those diagnosed with lung cancer. These abnormal cells can usually be found near a main airway toward the central part of the lungs.
  • Large Cell Carcinoma – This is a faster-growing form of NSCLC that can appear on any part of the lung and does not fit into the other categories. It makes up about 10% of lung cancer diagnoses.
  • Large Cell Neuroendocrine Tumors – These fast growing tumors make up only about 2% of lung cancer diagnoses.
  • Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) – This much faster growing and spreading cancer looks like tiny oats under a microscope, and so is termed “oat cell” cancer. The cells in this neuroendocrine tumor are smaller in size than most other cancer cells. This type of cancer represents the other 15% of lung cancers in the U.S. and is usually caused by smoking tobacco. Chemotherapy is often the best treatment for this type of cancer, but advanced radiation treatments are providing favorable outcomes.
  • Metastatic Lung Cancer – When lung cancer cells break away from a tumor and spread to other parts of your body through your lymph nodes or your blood, you have what is called metastatic lung cancer. This can happen before or after treatment.This is different than recurrent cancer because it spreads to a different part of the body than was previously infected.

Call Alaska CyberKnife For More Information

Confused about the type of cancer that you’ve been diagnosed with and the best treatment methods for that type? Our caring Anchorage cancer experts are here for you. Call us today at (907) 312-2112 for your free phone consultation. We’ll answer all of your questions and explain each treatment option in words that make sense to you. We also have a convenient online contact form that you may use to ask questions or schedule your first appointment. Let us show you how CyberKnife can be an effective part of your lung cancer treatment plan.

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