Is Lung Cancer Treatable If Caught Early?

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Lung cancer is not easy to treat. Even in many cases, it is life threatening condition. If compared to other cancers, the mortality rate due to this cancer is at the top rank in some countries. Many times, doctors say that it is important to catch it early. But is it treatable or even curable if caught early?

Factors that affect the prognosis of lung cancer

The stage of the disease plays a key role for the prognosis and outlook of patient with lung cancer. If it is caught early, it is easier to treat than if it is caught lately.

image_illustration374In general, doctors classify the disease into four major stages; stage I, II, III, and IV. Each stage describes the size of the cancer and how far it has spread.

Stage I is the earliest phase of the disease and the most likely to respond the treatment. In this stage, the cancer is still completely inside the lung. Therefore, it is much easier to treat and has the best survival rate.

Stage II and III is worse. The cancer is larger in size and categorized into locally advanced (it may have grown in the surrounding tissues, and even it may also have spread into the lymph nodes).

Stage IV is the worst scenario. It is secondary or metastatic cancer stage (a condition of when the cancer has spread to another part of the body). For instance, lung cancer can spread to the liver, causing secondary liver cancer. It can spread through bloodstream and lymphatic system.

If you have lung cancer, the stage of the cancer when first diagnosed is crucial – but it is not everything. There are also other factors that can affect your outlook and prognosis.

Your general health

How well you are overall can be another factor that your doctor should be concerned. This is what we call as the performance status or sometime called ‘PS’.

A score of 0 is the best scenario. For such case, your PS is good and there is no any problem to look after yourself. The next score ‘1’ , means that you are not completely able to look after yourself, but you can do most thing by yourself (though sometime you need some help).

The scores continue to high up levels, depending on how well you are. Many times, patients experience symptoms such as pain, weight loss, or fatigue. As a result they usually need more day to day help. For such case, doctor usually gives the score of at least 1.

So apart from the stage of the disease, your performance status can have an effect, too. Even it may also have a role in making the treatment plan.

For instance, if you are not fit enough, you may not be able to take surgery. Your doctor can delay your surgery or consider trying another treatment.

Other factors

These include:

  1. Genetic changes that occur in the cancer cells.
  2. The treatment plan. Each treatment has benefits and drawbacks. Therefore, it’s crucial to determine the best treatment that your body needs! Moreover, each treatment carries side effects – but your doctor has known this issue completely. Whatever a kind of cancer treatment you take, it should outweigh the risk of complications.
  3. How well the treatment works, how your cancer responds to the treatment.

Is lung cancer treatable if caught early?

Again, in fact the stage of the disease is a significant factor in affecting the prognosis (though other factor may also have a role, as noted before).

At early stage, the cancer is much easier to treat or even there is a good change to cure it. On the other hand, when it has become advanced, it is less likely to respond the treatment or even sometime the treatment is only intended to improve the quality of life of patient.

However, each case of lung cancer is unique. There is no any formula or statistic that can exactly tell or predict what will happen to you.

When it comes to the prognosis of cancer, doctors usually use n-year survival rate. In general, the following are some explanations of what will happen if lung cancer caught early.


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