Stage 4 Lung Cancer – What Is It?
What is stage 4 lung cancer? It is the most advanced stage of lung cancer known today. Having cancer at this stage means that the tumor at the lungs has spread out to the other parts of the body. This is also called metastasis. Identifying lung cancer stage is important to determine the extent of the spread of cancer and what possible treatment that a willing cancer patient must go through if he opt to be treated. This type of lung cancer may affect the brain, the liver, the adrenal glands and the bone.
Usually, a lung cancer is not detected on its early stage. Most symptoms start to manifest only at the later stage of the disease. Some stage 4 lung cancer symptoms are persistent coughing and sometimes with bloody mucous, shortness of breath, hoarseness of voice, difficulty in swallowing, tenderness of muscles with intolerable muscle pains, repeated occurrence of pneumonia or bronchitis and fatigue. Affecting the brain, the symptoms are severe headaches, vision changes and seizure attacks. For the liver and adrenal glands, a cancer patient may experience abdominal pain, fever, yellowish skin, swollen legs, weight loss and loss of appetite. Bone breakage occurs even when there is no injury that took place. Note however that different people may show different symptoms as this will depend on the other organs affected.
One should undergo multiple tests when most of the symptoms manifest. Stage 4 lung cancer can be diagnosed through various tests like chest x-rays, bone scans, CT scans or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), ultrasound and other blood tests. After taking all the necessary tests and a diagnosis has been made, an individual who is said to have this disease is entitled to get a second opinion, after all, its his life that is at stake. Note however that this lung cancer has no more cure but there are treatment methods that an individual may undergo to reduce pain at a certain level, slow down the growth of cancer cells and extend his life.
The common treatments recommended to slow down the spread of cancer cells for stage 4 lung cancer are chemotherapy, radiation therapy and in some cases the combination of both. Why not surgery? Surgery at this point in time is not recommended because as stated, this stage is characterized with the spread of tumors in various organs. The purpose of surgery is to remove the organ affected with tumor. To remove all the organs with tumor will just make the cancer patient weaker and may even be the cause for him to pass away sooner than he should. Chemotherapy, as a treatment, makes use of chemical agents to destroy the cancer cells. There are three ways to take this treatment. It can be taken orally, through injection or through the veins. What is important is the dosage of administering this treatment. But there is a setback. The treatment can also destroy non-cancer cells. Chemotherapy can not distinguish a good cell from a cancer cell. Radiation therapy on the other hand use radioactive substances to target and destroy the DNA of the cancer cells. An external machine can be used or a radioactive material can be inserted into the body and position it close to the area affected by the tumor. Like chemotherapy, radiation therapy can also damage normal body cells.
In consideration of the family of a cancer patient, they will also experience agony as they witness the physical hardships that their love one is going through. The cancer patient with so much effort will try not to show how much physical pain he is experiencing because he knows that his love ones will also suffer. In reciprocity, family members will try hard not to show how much they sympathize and empathize for their cancer patient. For most families, a disease such as stage 4 lung cancer has brought the family members closer to each other. One concern that brings the family together is the fact that this is a terminal case. It is but human nature to want to spend time with a love one who you know will be gone soon. Another reason concerns family decisions and support that need to be made. When a patient decides that he wants to undergo treatment, he will be needing all the support that his family can give.