Metastatic lung cancer is the stage of cancer where the cancerous cells disintegrate from the tumor into your lungs. They then start to spread to other parts of your body via the bloodstream quickly. These could include your brains, liver, adrenal glands, and bones. Doctors designate the beginning of metastatic lung cancer as either stage 3 or 4. It depends on how rapidly the cancer cells travel throughout your body. They can detect the onset of metastatic lung cancer either during their initial diagnosis or later on. Accordingly, doctors can prescribe the proper treatment for you depending on your condition and how far the cancer cells have spread.
Dr. Paolo Boffetta – What are the various symptoms of metastatic lung cancer?
Dr. Paolo Boffetta is a renowned epidemiologist of Italian origin with over 30 years of cancer research experience. He has made important contributions to understanding how the disease develops through his academic research papers. He even highlights the role of smoking, unhealthy diet, alcohol, and environmental factors in cancer. Throughout his illustrious career, he has held important positions in leading cancer research institutions around the world. These include the American Cancer Society, IARC, Karolinska Institute, German Cancer Research Center, and the US National Cancer Institute. Currently, he is a Director at the Institute for Translational Epidemiology in America.
He explains metastatic lung cancer exhibits many types of symptoms. It depends on which parts of the body the cancerous cells spread. Initially, you will have breathing problems, chronic cough, weight loss, and chest pains. However, as the cancer cells move to your brains, liver, and bones, the symptoms develop into:
- Headaches, seizures, memory loss, and blurred vision,
- Chronic pain in your upper and lower limbs,
- Having problems with keeping your balance,
- A feeling your stomach is always full,
- Traces of blood in your cough.
There is even a possibility you might suffer from jaundice, or your stomach starts to swell. This is when you should visit your doctor.
Treatment options for metastatic lung cancer
Your doctor will carry out a series of tests if he suspects you have metastatic lung cancer. These include chest x-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan, bronchoscopy, and lung needle biopsy. Depending on the results of these tests, he will prescribe the right treatment for you. In doing so, he can opt for:
- Immunotherapies to strengthen your body’s immune system to fight the cancerous cells,
- Targeted drug therapy which involves giving you drugs capable of attacking the specific cancerous cells, and
- Chemotherapy to reduce the size of the rapidly growing and dividing cancerous cells.
As concluded by Paolo Boffetta metastatic lung cancer occurs when cancer cells break away from the tumor. They start to move from your lungs to other parts of your body. As a result, you show symptoms of breathing difficulties, chronic coughs, weight loss, and chest pains. If the cancer cells reach your brains, you will have headaches, memory losses, and seizures. Similarly, if the cells move to your liver, your stomach starts to swell. You might even end up suffering from jaundice. In this situation, your doctor might prescribe immunotherapies, targeted drug therapy, or chemotherapy treatments to you.