Dr. David Carbone, Jill Feldman

Come join expert Dr. David Carbone from The Ohio State University as he discusses lung cancer staging and treatment options. Lung cancer staging is important in order to determine the best course of action, which can range from surgery to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Learn how to use CT scans and PET scans to determine the presence of cancer spots and how this knowledge can help you to prevent further issues developing from bone metastases. Also, find out whether your stage can change throughout your cancer journey or if it remains the same as initially diagnosed.

How is someone diagnosed with lung cancer?

Most of the time cancer is suspected when you see a spot on a scan or feel a lump or a bump somewhere. But in order to determine whether it’s cancer or not and what kind of cancer it is, that’s called diagnosis. You have to do a biopsy and that can be a biopsy of the lung if it’s a spot in the lung or even if there’s a spot in the lung, sometimes we prefer to biopsy the liver or adrenal glands or other places to help us in what’s called staging.

Doctors are looking for the answer to two questions:

  • What is it?
  • Where is it? That would be determining whether the lung cancer has spread outside the lung and where in the body cancer may have spread.

Why is determining lung cancer staging important?

For different stages of cancer, the treatment varies dramatically. If the cancer is localized to the lung, usually the best treatment is surgery. Then molecular testing on the tumor from that surgery can be used to test for eligibility for additional treatments or clinical trial participation. For example, if the cancer is localized to the chest, but can’t be taken out by surgery, that’s typically called stage 3, which is best treated with chemotherapy and radiation combination. And stage 4 cancers are typically treated primarily medically. This means the patient is giving drugs or medicines that go throughout the body. So it’s very important to know whether a patient has stage 1, 2, 3, or 4 lung cancer.

How important is biomarker testing in determining the staging of a patient with lung cancer?

Currently, the staging system does not include molecular features of cancers. But potentially in the future, we will be adding molecular features to staging description because it really does make a big difference in the outcome of people with different stage lung cancer.