Stage 1 lung cancer symptoms,Diagnosis and treatment

Stage 1 lung cancer symptoms

Stage 1 lung cancer is further divided into stages 1A and 1B in clinical settings. Stage 1A lung cancer is confined to the lungs without cancer cells in the surrounding lymph nodes and no metastasis to other parts of the body. Stage 1B lung cancer is relatively larger, with some lesions invading the main bronchus or pleura.

Due to the small size and location within the lungs, stage 1 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is unlikely to cause noticeable symptoms, which could alert healthcare providers to its presence. In rare cases, very early-stage lung cancer can cause symptoms, which may include:

  • Persistent cough,(stage 1 lung cancer symptoms)
  • Blood-streaked saliva or phlegm,(stage 1 lung cancer symptoms)
  • Shortness of breath,(stage 1 lung cancer symptoms)
  • Recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, or other lung infections,(stage 1 lung cancer symptoms)
stage 1 lung cancer symptoms
stage 1 lung cancer symptoms

Given the size and location of stage 1 tumors, they generally do not cause fatigue, unintentional weight loss, or significant pain—symptoms more common in advanced stages of NSCLC. When there are no known risk factors for lung cancer, healthcare providers might overlook the subtle signs of the disease. In fact, one-third of people eventually diagnosed with lung cancer had visited healthcare facilities three or more times with cancer-related symptoms before receiving an accurate diagnosis.

All forms of lung cancer occur when DNA in healthy, normal cells is damaged, leading to mutations and other changes that cause uncontrolled growth. The most common cause of cancer cell development in the lungs is the inhalation of certain chemicals during smoking, with cigarettes containing over 60 carcinogens including formaldehyde, acrylamide, inorganic lead, and various hydrocarbons.

While smoking is the primary risk factor for lung cancer, other factors to be aware of include:

  • Age (the median age of lung cancer diagnosis is 71)
  • Personal history of lung cancer
  • Exposure to radon
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, metals (such as nickel), and fibers (including wood dust and asbestos)
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Air pollution
  • Ionizing radiation or radiation therapy to the chest (such as for Hodgkin’s disease)
  • Lung diseases, especially chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma
stage 1 lung cancer symptoms-2
stage 1 lung cancer symptoms-2

Diagnosis and treatment of stage 1 lung cancer:

Because it rarely causes symptoms, stage 1 lung cancer is more likely to be an incidental finding rather than detected through targeted screening. It most commonly appears on chest X-rays or CT scans done for entirely different reasons, like diagnosing pneumonia. Early lung cancer can also be detected through CT imaging, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends CT imaging for certain populations who are current or former smokers:

  • Aged between 50 and 80
  • With a smoking history of 20 pack-years or more
  • Currently smoking or have quit within the past 15 years
  • In overall good health sufficient to undergo treatment if lung cancer is diagnosed

Once suspected, additional tests such as positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, sputum or blood tests, or biopsy are used to confirm the diagnosis and stage the cancer.

stage 1 lung cancer symptoms-3
stage 1 lung cancer symptoms-3

Surgical removal of the tumor is the preferred treatment method for stage 1 lung cancer, including:

  • Wedge resection (segmental resection): Removing a wedge-shaped section of the lung, including the entire tumor and some surrounding tissue.
  • Lobectomy: The right lung has three lobes, and the left lung has two; a lobectomy involves removing one of these lobes and is the most common surgery for lung cancer.
  • Segmentectomy: Dividing the lobes into segments, one of which can be completely removed along with the tumor to ensure cancer cells are eradicated.

Post-surgery chemotherapy may be used to increase the chances of eliminating all cancer cells. However, this remains controversial due to its modest benefit and potential health risks. For those who are not healthy enough to undergo surgery or have inoperable tumors—such as those in difficult-to-reach locations—radiation therapy may be used, which involves targeting cancer cells with high-energy radiation to kill them and shrink the tumor. A special type of radiation therapy known as stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), also known as radiosurgery, might be an option as it targets small areas with high doses of radiation.

Studies show that 70% to 92% of NSCLC stage 1 patients are expected to live at least 5 years after diagnosis, with those able to undergo surgical removal of all cancer having a higher survival rate. The 5-year survival rate post-surgery is about 80%, while it is about 40% for SBRT alone. For patients who are first identified through CT scans without symptoms, the survival rate may be even higher. Thus, efforts to improve early screening can help ensure better outcomes for lung cancer patients.

It’s estimated that 30% to 50% of patients treated for stage 1 lung cancer will experience a recurrence, which can occur locally or in distant parts of the body, even after successful surgery. The most common scenario is that recurrent tumors appear in locations other than the original tumor site, such as the brain, bones, or liver. If lung cancer spreads in this manner, the prognosis is significantly worse. For those who have smoked, there is also a risk of developing a second primary tumor related to smoking, either in the lungs or elsewhere in the body.

The diagnosis of lung cancer, regardless of stage, warrants attention; that is, the prognosis for stage 1 NSCLC after tumor removal is very good. However, individuals who have had lung cancer once are at risk of developing it again, so it’s crucial to inform your healthcare provider about steps to help prevent its recurrence. Most importantly, if possible, quit smoking. Quitting smoking can be challenging, but there are many effective methods and sources of support available. Hopefully, this article can help more people understand lung cancer, prevent it, and lead healthier lives.

ONE OF the top hospitals in the United States for treating lung cancer

Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (Boston, MA) :The Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center is a world-renowned cancer treatment center that provides comprehensive care for lung cancer patients. The hospital has a multidisciplinary team of experts who work together to provide personalized treatment plans for each patient. They offer a variety of treatment options, including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. The Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center also has a strong research program, and its doctors and scientists are involved in many clinical trials aimed at improving lung cancer treatment.

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