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Advanced-Stage Lung Tumors

After a malignant tumor forms in a lung, some of the cancerous cells may break away and invade surrounding healthy lung tissues. This process is known as local metastasis. If the errant cancerous cells reach nearby lymph nodes, they can enter the lymphatic system and circulate throughout the body, eventually forming advanced-stage lung tumors in other tissues and organs. This process is known as distant metastasis.

What Causes Lung Tumors to Spread?

Due to abnormal changes in their DNA, cancer cells have a unique ability to spread. More specifically, a mutation in a cancer cell’s genome (the DNA stored in its nucleus) may allow the cell to separate itself from other cancer cells and travel to nearby healthy tissue. Other genomic breakdowns may allow the cell to make its way to a blood or lymph vessel, permeate the vessel wall and then move on to another region of the body, where it may once again pass through the vessel wall and begin to grow, divide and eventually form advanced-stage lung tumors.

What Are the Symptoms of Advanced-Stage Lung Tumors?

In addition to general lung cancer symptoms, such as chronic coughing, chest pain, wheezing and shortness of breath, advanced-stage lung tumors can cause other symptoms related to the specific area of metastasis, such as:

  • Back pain resulting from a bone metastasis
  • Abdominal pain and jaundice resulting from a liver metastasis
  • Headaches, speech difficulties, memory loss and weakness resulting from a brain metastasis

How Are Lung Tumors Staged and Treated?

Lung cancer is staged at the time of diagnosis. In addition to the results of a biopsy, the staging process usually includes an analysis of one or more imaging scans, which can reveal the size and extent of a tumor. Both are key factors that can influence the development of the treatment plan. For instance, localized treatments such as surgery and radiation therapy may be considered for early-stage lung tumors, while systemic treatments such as chemotherapy may be more appropriate for advanced-stage lung tumors that have spread to both lungs, the fluid around the lungs or other parts of the body.

The multispecialty team of pulmonary and lung cancer experts at Tampa General Hospital has the expertise necessary to treat all types of lung cancer, including advanced-stage lung tumors. Our goal is to help each patient achieve the best possible outcome and quality of life, and this is reflected in our individualized approach to treatment as well as our comprehensive range of supportive care services.