Jul 13, 2022
Metastatic lung cancer is a carcinoma that begins in the lungs and spreads to other body parts. Note that this is a stage of cancer, typically stage four of lung cancer rather than a form of cancer, so this name would not change when the carcinoma affects a new area, for instance, the brain or the bone. When one is suffering from lung cancer and cancer affects the liver, it would be metastatic lung cancer.
However, one may also suffer from lung cancer and develop cancer in the liver. In that case, it won’t be metastatic lung cancer but liver cancer (it is important to understand these two situations). Also, it is essential to differentiate lung metastasis from metastatic lung cancer. In metastatic lung cancer, the pathologist would always see lung cancer cells on the infected lung and the secondary affected site, for instance, on the bone. In contrast, in the case of lung metastasis, the pathologist would find foreign cancerous cells on the lung. This suggests that in lung metastasis, the lung acts as the secondary site of metastasis from another part of the body, for example, the breast. For that reason, a tissue biopsy is vital in the course of cancer treatment so that you don’t end up treating the wrong cancer.
Lung cancer hardly shows any symptoms in its early stages. One can live with lung cancer for a very long time, and by the time the doctors diagnose it, it has metastasized to other parts of the body. Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer in active and passive smokers. However, lung cancer can still affect those not exposed to smoke. In such cases, the cancer cause is not clear. Still, doctors would associate it t other causes such as exposure to radiation therapy, radon gas, asbestos, or a family history of lung cancer.
According to various studies, metastatic lung cancer prognosis is very poor. Doctors usually express life expectancy in 5-year survival rates by using the number of people alive after five years of being diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. The survival rates differ depending on whether the cancer is a small or non-small cell lung cancer. For metastatic small cell lung cancer, the survival rate after five years is as low as 3 percent, while for metastatic non-small cell cancer, the survival rate is a bit higher, at 6 percent.
According to research, the life expectancy of a person diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer ranges from 6.3 months to 11.4 months. This data suggest that these patients hardly live for more than one year. Many factors directly influence metastatic lung cancer life expectancy. Majority of the factors that often lead to the adverse outcome include;
• Tobacco smoking
• Old age
• How aggressive is the carcinoma?
• Gender (being male)
• Congestive heart failure and other cardiac conditions
• Underlying health conditions like HIV
The above factors have direct effects on metastatic lung cancer.
Since lung cancer is hardly notable, most patients usually start treatment once cancer has metastasized to other body parts since that is when you will start feeling the symptoms. Metastatic lung cancer symptoms vary depending on the secondary affected part of your body. General symptoms of stage four lung cancer include shortness of breath, loss of appetite, chest pain, hoarseness, wheezing, and unexplained weight loss with severe weakness and fatigue. If metastatic lung cancer has moved to the bone, one will experience bone and joint pains and be very susceptible to fractures. If it moves to the brain, one will experience confusion, severe headache, tiredness, and in some cases, seizures. For liver metastasis, one will have jaundice, epigastric pain, nausea after eating, and vomiting, which might be blood-stained. These symptoms are usually severe and would force one to seek medical attention.
After looking at metastatic lung cancer symptoms, it is vital to also be aware of lung metastasis symptoms since these are two very similar but different conditions. Lung metastasis symptoms include the following;
• Bringing up blood when coughing
• Chest pain
• Shortness of breath
• Fluid accumulation around the lung
• Weight loss
• Pain in the ribs
Metastatic lung cancer treatment focuses on controlling cancer growth and relieving the symptoms since it can be very difficult to eliminate. Based on various metastatic lung cancer diagnostic studies like CT scans, MRI scans, ultrasound scans, X-rays, blood tests, and organ biopsies, doctors would treat the condition depending on the location of metastasis, previous medical interventions, and the severity of the condition. Common treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy, laser therapy, and other medications that control pain. You can also consult an oncologist and other specialists 24/7 with OncoPower Ask-A-Doc service to get guidance on how monitor and manage metastatic lung cancer.