Stage 4 lung cancer:Survival rate,Treatments,Symptoms and supportive care

Survival rate

Stage 4 lung cancer, also known as advanced or metastatic lung cancer, has lower survival rates compared to earlier stages. The five-year survival rate for stage 4 lung cancer is generally quite low. According to available data, for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which is the most common type, the five-year survival rate for all stages combined is approximately 26.3%. However, for stage 4 specifically, this rate drops to around 6.9%. For small cell lung cancer (SCLC), which is more aggressive, the overall five-year survival rate is about 6.7%, with the rate for stage 4 being even lower.

the overall five-year survival rate is about 6.7%
the overall five-year survival rate is about 6.7%


These rates are based on historical data and may not reflect the latest advancements in treatment. Survival rates can also vary based on individual factors such as age, overall health, and response to treatment. Additionally, different countries may have varying survival rates due to differences in healthcare systems and access to treatments.

The best treatments for Stage 4 lung cancer depend on the type of cancer, the extent of its spread, and the overall health of the patient. Currently, treatment for Stage 4 lung cancer primarily focuses on alleviating symptoms, extending survival, and improving the quality of life. Here are some commonly used treatment modalities:

  1. Targeted Therapy: If the lung cancer cells have specific genetic mutations such as KRAS, EGFR, ALK, BRAF, RET, ROS1, MET, or NTRK, doctors may recommend targeted therapy. This treatment slows tumor growth by targeting specific defects in lung cancer cells.
  2. Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to recognize and combat cancer cells. Patients with a high level of PD-L1 protein in lung cancer cells may have a better response to immunotherapy, particularly checkpoint inhibitors.
  3. Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. It can be used in combination with targeted therapy or immunotherapy to treat Stage 4 lung cancer.
  4. Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be performed to remove tumors that are causing pain or if lung cancer has spread to the brain, adrenal glands, or liver.
  5. Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy can be used to shrink tumors and help alleviate symptoms of Stage 4 lung cancer. It is often used to treat lung cancer that has spread to the bones or brain, and for patients who cannot undergo chemotherapy.
  6. Photodynamic Therapy: Photodynamic therapy uses special photosensitive drugs and light to kill cancer cells. This treatment may be used for small cell lung cancer that has grown into the airways and is causing coughing, bleeding, or difficulty breathing.
  7. Complementary and Integrative Therapies: These therapies may be used in conjunction with other standard treatments to help patients better manage symptoms and improve their quality of life.
  8. University Hospital Basel studied a personalized treatment approach based on gene editing technology, aiming to repair or delete mutation genes associated with stage 4 lung cancer using CRISPR technology. Preliminary trial results showed that gene editing technology effectively inhibited the proliferation of lung cancer cells in vitro. Further clinical trials are underway to verify its safety and efficacy in humans.
treatment for Stage 4 lung cancer
treatment for Stage 4 lung cancer

The choice and application of these treatment modalities need to be determined based on the specific circumstances of the patient and the advice of their doctors. It’s important to note that while Stage 4 lung cancer cannot currently be cured, new treatment methods and palliative care strategies can help many patients extend their survival and improve their quality of life.


Stage 4 lung cancer, also known as advanced or metastatic lung cancer, exhibits a range of symptoms, some of which are specific to the lungs and others that result from the cancer spreading to other parts of the body. Common symptoms include:

  1. Cough: A persistent or worsening cough that does not go away.
  2. Hoarseness: Due to the cancer affecting the vocal cords.
  3. Chest Pain: May be felt as a constant ache or sharp pain.
  4. Blood in Phlegm: Coughing up blood, even in small amounts.
  5. Loss of Appetite: Leading to unintended weight loss.
  6. Shortness of Breath: Difficulty breathing or feeling breathless.
  7. Wheezing: A high-pitched whistling sound during breathing.
  8. Fatigue and Weakness: Feeling constantly tired or weak.
  9. Respiratory Infections: Such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

As the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, additional symptoms may arise, such as:

  1. Bone Pain: Particularly in the back or hips.
  2. Jaundice: Yellowing of the skin and eyes, indicating liver involvement.
  3. Swollen Lymph Nodes: In the neck or above the collarbone.
  4. Headache and Neurological Symptoms: Including weakness, numbness, dizziness, balance issues, and seizures, which may indicate brain metastasis.

Improving the quality of life for patients with Stage 4 lung cancer

Improving the quality of life for patients with Stage 4 lung cancer involves a multifaceted approach that includes medical treatment, supportive care, and lifestyle adjustments. Here are some strategies that can be employed:

Improving the quality of life for patients with Stage 4 lung cancer
Improving the quality of life for patients with Stage 4 lung cancer
  1. Palliative Care: Palliative care focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress associated with serious illness. It can be provided alongside curative treatment and aims to improve the patient’s quality of life.
  2. Management of Symptoms: Effective management of symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue is crucial. This may involve medications, oxygen therapy, or other interventions as recommended by healthcare providers.
  3. Psychosocial Support: Mental health support, including counseling and support groups, can help patients cope with the emotional and psychological impact of a Stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis.
  4. Nutritional Support: A balanced diet and nutritional support can help maintain strength and energy levels. Nutritional counseling may be beneficial to address any dietary restrictions or challenges.
  5. Physical Activity: Gentle exercise, such as walking or yoga, can help improve strength, reduce fatigue, and enhance overall well-being, as long as it is approved by the healthcare team.
  6. Complementary Therapies: Some patients find relief through complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and relaxation techniques, which can help manage stress and pain.
  7. Good Communication: Open and honest communication with healthcare providers is essential for understanding treatment options, managing expectations, and making informed decisions about care.
  8. Quality Time: Spending meaningful time with loved ones and engaging in activities that bring joy can be important for emotional well-being.
  9. Advance Care Planning: Discussing and planning for future healthcare decisions, including end-of-life care, can provide a sense of control and ensure that the patient’s wishes are respected.

Work closely with a healthcare team to tailor these strategies to the individual needs and preferences of the patient. The goal is to enhance the patient’s quality of life and maintain the best possible function and well-being while managing the challenges of Stage 4 lung cancer.

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