Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Occult Stage
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Occult Stage Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
The occult stage is the earliest stage of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that can be diagnosed. At this stage, the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. The five-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with occult stage non-small cell lung cancer is 60 - 80 percent.
What Is Occult Stage Lung Cancer?
Patients are diagnosed with occult stage NSCLC when cancer cells are found in the sputum (mucus from the lungs), but tumors are not immediately visible. Patients in the occult stage of lung cancer often do not have symptoms, though a persistent cough could be an indication.
When cancer cells are identified, tumors can be located with imaging tools such as:
- Chest X-Ray
- CT Scan
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) we use PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography/Computerized Tomography), which combines two imaging technologies in one to detect small tumors in the lungs. Combining PET/CT technology reveals where healthy lung tissue ends and the tumor begins. A PET scan also reveals cancerous cells before any structural changes are present. This precisely pinpoints tumors, so that we can properly diagnose and stage the disease, and focus strictly on treating the cancerous tissues.
After the tumor is located (if it can be located), treatment is determined after the tumor is staged, using the TNM staging system.
TNM Categories of Occult Stage
An occult stage non-small cell lung cancer diagnosis occurs in conjunction with the following TNM categories:
- TX – Cancer cells were spotted, but no tumor can be located.
- N0 – The cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes.
- M0 – There cancer has not spread to organs or other areas.
Occult Stage Lung Cancer Treatment
Surgery – Since lung cancer can easily spread before it is diagnosed, surgery is not always a treatment option. However, the occult stage is the earliest possible lung cancer diagnosis, and once the tumor is identified surgery can be used in some cases to completely remove the tumor.
Other possible occult stage non-small cell lung cancer treatments include:
- Photodynamic therapy is an innovative treatment that uses light-activated drugs and a laser to destroy cancer cells and treat symptomatic tissues.
- Cryotherapy is the use of extreme cold to destroy abnormal or diseased tissue. This treatment method can be used to treat lung cancer tumors, as well as obstructions in the airway and other parts of the body. During cryotherapy, liquid nitrogen or argon gas flows through a long, thin insulated tube. Using image guidance, your doctor places a probe on the tumor or obstruction and freezes the cells. Cryotherapy may be an effective treatment for lung cancer tumors that cannot be removed by surgery.
- Brachytherapy is an advanced cancer treatment where radioactive seeds or sources are placed in or near the tumor itself, giving a high radiation dose to the tumor while reducing the radiation exposure in the surrounding healthy tissues. The term "brachy" is Greek for short distance. Brachytherapy is radiation therapy given at a short distance: localized, precise and high-tech.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America has numerous treatment options available, as well as supportive therapies to help with pain management and dealing with side effects. Call us at 1-800-615-3055, or chat now to learn more about the treatment options available for you, or a loved one, who has been diagnosed with occult stage non-small cell lung cancer.