Doctor's Responses Archive

Viewer Question:
What does it mean when a doctor says you have lung cancer and you ask what kind and he says nodule? What are the survival rates for this kind of cancer?

Doctor's Response:
Simply put, lung cancer comes in two varieties, small cell and non-small cell. The primary treatment for small cell type is chemotherapy. The primary treatment for non-small cell type is surgery.

Before surgery can be performed, the extent of the cancer must be determined . This is referred to as staging. The stage of the cancer predicts the chance for survival after therapy. The less the cancer has spread, the greater the chance for long term survival.

Stage I cancer includes those tumors that are small and only are located in the tissue of one lung. This often includes tumors about the size of a golf ball. These are often referred to as nodules on x-ray. Surgery with this limited extent of disease can result in 80-90% cure rates.

As the tumor spreads into the lymph nodes of the lung, than the chest, and than to other parts of the body, the staging number increases. The higher the stage, the less the chance for cure.

Thank you for your question.


Last Editorial Review: 8/17/2001