Lung Cancer, part two


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When lung cancer is suspected in a person, a biopsy is performed. There are two different types of biopsies that can be performed, a needle biopsy in which the doctor uses a needle through the skin into the lungs to remove a small piece of tissue. The second type is bronchoscopy which is when the doctor inserts a small tube through the mouth or nose which goes into the lungs. The tube has a light at the end and enabled the doctor to see inside the lungs.  When diagnosed with lung cancer, the doctor will look at the cells from the biopsy to determine the type of cancer.

            Lung cancer is classified as two different types, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC).  NSCLC accounts for almost 85% of lung cancers. In this type there are four different stages, the first stage happens when cancer is located only in the lungs and had not spread to lymph nodes. Stage II happens when the cancer is found in the lungs and in nearby lymph nodes. Stage III occurs when cancer is in the lungs and in the lymph nodes that are located in the middle of the chest, this stage has two subtypes: Stage IIIA if the cancer has spread only to lymph nodes on the same side of the chest where the cancer started. Stage IIIB is diagnosed when the cancer has spread to lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest or above the collar bone. Stage IV is the most advanced stage of the cancer and is called the advanced disease, this occurs when the cancer has spread to both lungs, the fluid in the area around the lungs, or to another part of the body like the liver or other organs.

           Small Cell Lung Cancer accounts for the remaining 15% of the lung cancers in the U.S. SCLC results from smoking even more so than NSCLC and grows rapidly and spreads to other parts of the body quickly. This is the type of cancer that I have had a family member go through and to see the cancer spread from his one lung to other areas of his body in such a short amount of time is horrifying. There are two stages of SCLC, limited stage is when cancer is found on one side of the chest and extensive stage is when cancer has spread to other regions of the chest or in the body.

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