Stage 4 Lung Cancer
Stage 4 lung cancer is the most severe and advanced form of the disease. At this stage, the lung cancer has spread to distant parts of the body that are not adjacent to the lungs, including the bones, brain and liver. The chances of surviving stage 4 lung cancer are not good, but there are treatment possibilities that can increase the life expectancy of a patient with stage 4 lung cancer.
Almost half of all lung cancers are already in stage 4 when they are discovered, and this is why lung cancer has such a high rate of mortality. Lung cancer detected in the earlier stages can be treated with surgery, which can result in survival rates as high as 85 percent. Stage 4 lung cancer affects areas of the body outside of the lungs, so surgery is not a viable treatment option.
Stage 4 lung cancer is almost always treated with chemotherapy, and sometimes the chemo is combined with radiation therapy. Chemotherapy increases the rate of survival for patients with stage 4 lung cancer. Patients that do not receive any chemotherapy have just a 10 percent survival rate.
Chemotherapy is essentially the use of drugs to kill the cancer cells. Chemo can be administered in a pill form or through an intravenous tube. Chemotherapy is used with stage 4 lung cancer because the drugs are sent directly into the blood stream, where they can travel to infected areas in all areas of the body.
There are a variety of different chemicals used to make up the particular "cocktail" that is used in chemotherapy treatment, and this will vary depending on the patient's individual condition. While chemotherapy is very effective in treating all types of cancer, it does have some highly unpleasant side effects.
Other treatments that are used with stage 4 lung cancer include target drug therapy and participation in clinical trials. There are many emerging target therapies that are being used to treat more advanced forms of lung cancer, sometimes in combination with chemotherapy.
Target therapies work differently than chemotherapy, so the side effects are not as severe. Basically, these drugs do what their name implies - they target one aspect of the cancer and work on that area alone, with little effect on surrounding tissue. This is a rapidly developing field, and it may lead to better survival rates for people with stage 4 lung cancer.
Clinical trials are one of the most successful ways of treating stage 4 lung cancer, and they have been found to increase survival rates for some. This may be due to the fact that patients participating in a clinical trial receive closer attention than those being treated under regular circumstances. There are always clinical trials going on to help increase the odds of surviving stage 4 lung cancer.
Some patients with stage 4 lung cancer choose to seek out complementary or alternative medical treatments. This can include things like massage therapy, nutritional therapy and even acupuncture. Some cancer treatment hospitals get good results by combining traditional treatments with alternative therapies, and this form of treatment may grow in popularity if they can prove that alternative medicines are effective in curing stage 4 lung cancer.