Lung cancer Natural History, Complications and Prognosis
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The majority of lung cancers present with advanced disease because the symptoms tend to occur later in the course of the disease. The patient experiences non-specific symptoms such as cough, hemoptysis, dyspnea, chest pain, dysphonia, dysphagia, fatigue, lack of appetite, weight loss, and fatigue from 3 weeks to 3 months before seeking medical attention. There are a variety of complications associated with lung cancer such as pleural effusion, leg weakness paresthesias, bladder dysfunction, seizures, hemiplegia, cranial nerve palsies, confusion, personality changes, skeletal pain, and/or pleuritic pain, atelectasis, and/or bronchopleural fistula. The prognosis of lung cancer is poor if diagnosed during the advanced stages.
- The majority of lung cancers present with advanced disease because the symptoms tend to occur later in the course of the disease.
- The patient experiences non-specific symptoms such as cough, hemoptysis, dyspnea, chest pain, dysphonia, dysphagia, lack of appetite, weight loss, and fatigue from 3 weeks to 3 months before seeking medical attention.
- While of duration of symptoms, the tumor cell may double 20 times.
- In more advanced disease, the tumor may spread to other organs such as the spinal cord, brain, and bone.
- These patients may develop symptoms such as leg weakness, paresthesias, bladder dysfunction, seizures, hemiplegia, cranial nerve palsies, confusion , personality changes, skeletal pain, and pleuritic pain.
- Once the cancer spreads to the other organs, it is most likely fatal.
- Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
- Occasionally lung cancer can cause bleeding in the airways which results in the patient coughing up blood.
- It is possible that lung cancer will cause pain as well, especially if it spreads to the lining of the lung, or other areas of the body, like the bones.
- There are treatments to help combat the pain.
- Lung cancer can cause fluid to build up in the lungs which can cause breathing difficulties.
- There are treatments available to help drain the excess fluid
- Superior vena cava syndrome
- SVCS is a group of symptoms caused by obstruction of the superior vena cava. More than 60% of cases of superior vena cava obstruction are caused by malignant causes, typically a tumor outside the vessel compressing the vessel wall.
The prognosis of lung cancer is poor and it depends on the following:
- Whether or not the tumor can be removed by surgery
- The stage of the cancer: the size of the tumor, whether the cancer has spread outside the lung
- The patient’s general health
- Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred
Non–small cell lung cancer survival rate by stage
|Stage||5-year survival rate|
Small cell lung cancer survival rate
- To view the prognosis among patients with small cell lung carcinoma, please click Here
- Leary, A (2012). Lung cancer a multidisciplinary approach. Chichester, West Sussex, UK Ames, Iowa: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 9781405180757.
- Jones, DR (Jul 1998). "Pancoast tumors of the lung". Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine. 4 (4): 191–197. PMID 10813231. Unknown parameter
- Eren S, Karaman A, Okur A (2006). "The superior vena cava syndrome caused by malignant disease. Imaging with multi-detector row CT". Eur J Radiol. 59 (1): 93–103. doi:10.1016/j.ejrad.2006.01.003. PMID 16476534.
- Lung cancer. Canadian Cancer Society 2015. http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/lung/prognosis-and-survival/survival-statistics/?region=ab