Stage 4 is the final phase of lung cancer, and results when the disease has metastasized, meaning it has spread to other organs in the body. Normally, surgery is not performed at this stage because it will not result in curing the disease, and could provide further harm to the patient. Survival rates for stage 4 lung cancer are low, ranging from 20 to 30 weeks in one study. Yet early, aggressive treatment can offer some hope, with the Cancer Treatment Centers of America reporting the number of its patients surviving 1.5 years increasing by 1.84 times the typical survival rate.
Surving Stage 4 Lung Cancer
Choose an oncologist who will provide a positive, yet realistic outlook. Some physicians will avoid getting a patient's hopes up, fearing negative repercussions should the patient not survive. An optimistic physician can help the patient to approach treatment in a more enthusiastic manner, while making sure the patient understands the full scope of the illness.
Undergo an aggressive treatment program. Chemotherapy is a popular option, as it has been shown to result in a lifespan of three to five years in some patients, and help improve overall quality of life. Side effects such as nausea can be reduced with the use of other medications.
Consider radiation treatment. This has been shown to help reduce the pain and other discomfort associated with lung cancer, and in some cases can help reduce the size of tumors.
For lung cancer occurring in non-smokers, gene therapy could be the proper choice. Drugs such as Tarceva and Iressa have been proven to be effective in some non-smokers and former smokers.
Develop and maintain a positive mental attitude. Fighting cancer in its late stages is a difficult battle, so having the support of family and friends is necessary.