In both the United States and the United Kingdom, lung cancer is now considered to be the leading cause of cancer related deaths among both males and females (not including skin cancer), and is also considered to be more fatal than all other known cancers due to its late stage diagnosis.
There are two different types of lung cancer. The less common and faster growing small cell lung cancer (SCLC), also known as oat cel cancer (OCC), and the slower growing non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Both types are staged (staging describes the extent or severity of a patient's cancer) with each stage further divided into more specific stages.
Stage 3 – Lung cancer is broken down into two different stages (A & B), and has been reached when the disease has spread to either the lymph node system, or to another part of the body. This is a critical stage for any patient, as the cancer has now become life-threatening.
An important group of factors can affect stage 3 cancer sufferers considerably. Age, gender, weight, previous medical history, and general physical condition must all be taken into consideration when evaluating the prognosis of a patient. Any, or all of these are factors that may have a bearing on the eventual life expectancy of a patient.
Stage 3A – The cancer has passed the first two stages and has affected the lymph node system. The tumor may vary in size at this stage. Other parts of the body that may be affected are the main bronchus, the chest wall, the diaphragm, the pleura (membrane lining the thoracic cavity), and the membrane that surrounds the heart. At this stage there is also the possibility of lung inflammation or a complete collapse of the lung.
Stage 3B – The cancer has further spread to the opposite side of the body where it has probably affected the chest wall, the inferior cava (the vein that receives blood from lower limbs and abdominal organs and empties into the posterior part of the right atrium of the heart), the aorta (the largest artery in the human body), the diaphragm (muscular membranous partition separating the abdominal and thoracic cavities), the trachea (windpipe), sternum (breast bone), or the esophagus (the tube that carries food, liquids and saliva from the mouth to the stomach).
Stage 3 Life Expectancy
The prognosis of a stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer patient can vary considerably. As previously mentioned, age, gender, weight, previous medical history and general physical condition may all affect how a patient responds to treatment (what side-effects are experienced). Depending on these factors, a prognosis of around 15 months (stage 3A), and 13 months (stage 3B) can be expected (on average). Sadly, only around 23% of all stage 3A sufferers, and 10% of stage 3B sufferers can be expected to be alive five years after diagnosis.