After it is confirmed that you have non small cell lung cancer, your doctor will determine its stage. The staging helps him to determine the prognosis and chose the most appropriate treatment. Stages of non small cell lung cancer are measured from the size and extension of the tumor. In general, the stages range from I to IV. A higher stage indicates you have less chance to survive. Unfortunately, most cases of non small cell lung cancer are diagnosed at stage III or IV.
- Stage I – at this stage, the tumor is localized; it has penetrated the underlying lung tissue, but has not invaded the lymph nodes. Your survival chance is high.
- Stage II – cancer has made progress; the tumor has penetrated the underlying lung tissue and spread into nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage IIIA – the cancer has spread into other organs surrounding its initial location, mostly the thoracic cavity (or chest cavity);
- Stage IIIB – at this stage, the cancer has invaded not only the chest cavity, but also other vital organs: heart, blood vessels, trachea and esophagus.
- Stage IV – Stage IV indicates a very serious nature of the disease. The tumor, from lungs and surrounding tissues, has spread into other organs such as liver, bones or brain.
- Recurrent – the cancer has returned after previous treatment.