Late stage lung cancer is also known as Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
This is the most advanced form of lung cancer. In Stage IV, the cancer has metastasized (spread) beyond the lungs and into other areas of the body like the lymph nodes, brain, or other organs.
About 40% of people diagnosed with lung cancer are diagnosed in Stage IV. By the time the disease reaches this stage, five-year survival rates drop to less than 10%. Early diagnosis is essential to improving lung cancer survival rates, so it’s important to get regular screenings if you currently smoke or are an ex-smoker. To learn more about how early diagnosis can help save lives, click here.
While Stage IV lung cancer typically has a poor prognosis, there are still many treatment options available to help ease a person’s symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Stage IV Lung Cancer Treatment
Treatment for Stage IV lung cancer varies depending on where the cancer has spread and how extensive it is. Many treatments for this stage of lung cancer are considered palliative, which means they are applied only to ease symptoms and increase comfort—not as a “cure.”
Some treatment options for Stage IV lung cancer for people in generally good health include:
- Chemotherapy: The use of anti-cancer drugs that are injected into a vein or taken orally.
- Targeted Therapy: The use of specific drugs developed to target cancer cells in advanced stages of cancer.
- Radiation Therapy: This treatment uses high-energy rays to attack and kill cancer cells.
- Immunotherapy: This is when medicine is used to trigger a person’s immune system with the goal of detecting and destroying cancer cells.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT), or laser therapy, is another treatment used for this stage of lung cancer. It’s primarily used to help relieve symptoms and is considered palliative in nature.
It’s important to note that more often than not, treatments for this stage of lung cancer are performed with the goal of helping the affected person live longer and increasing their quality of life, not eradicating the cancer.
Emotional Support for Stage IV Lung Cancer
Receiving a Stage IV lung cancer diagnosis can be incredibly difficult for both the person with cancer and their loved ones. It’s important to remember to take care of your emotional needs as well as your physical needs. If you or your loved ones and/or caregivers need support, visit The American Cancer Society’s website for a list of resources including a cancer helpline, how to better understand and accept your diagnosis, and more.
Dr. Michael Czarnecki: Late Stage Lung Cancer Specialist
Dr. Michael Czarnecki—”The Lung Doc”—is a board-certified pulmonary physician by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He is trained in all areas of pulmonary health, including the diagnosis and treatment of Stage IV lung cancer. Dr. Mike handles lung cancer screening and works with a network of specialists who help treat this disease. Whether you are at risk for lung cancer or have recently been diagnosed, Dr. Mike can help. To book an appointment with Dr. Mike, call 423-710-3864 or request an appointment online.