Lung cancer is a leading cause of death due to cancer in both men and women throughout the world. Lung cancer occurs most commonly in the elderly; almost 70% of people diagnosed with lung cancer are over 65 years of age, and less than 3% are under 45 years of age. It was not common before 1930s. The incidence of lung cancer has increased after tobacco smoking increased.
Primary lung cancer: If lung cancer is not treated, it will continue to grow. According to studies, the median survival time is about a few months after diagnosis if lung cancer is not treated. The overall 5-year survival rate of people with lung cancer is poor (about 15%). Survival rates are better when the cancer is diagnosed in early stages. It is about 49.3 percent for localised cancer which falls down to 15.5 percent in cases of regional spread. In cases of distant spread of cancer, the overall 5 year survival is abysmally low, at about 2%.
Recurrent lung cancer: When lung cancer returns (comes back) after it has been treated, and after a period of time in which your doctor was unable to detect any signs of lung cancer (sometimes called remission) is known as recurrent cancer. Recurrence of cancer can be localised (at the site of primary tumour), regionally in the lymph nodes, or metastatic (at a distant site as the liver or bone).
Survivors of lung cancer are advised regular follow up as there is risk of recurrence of cancer. Risk of recurrence is higher in people who continue to smoke after treatment of primary cancer. Treatment of recurrence includes surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Recurrence is treated based on where the cancer recurs, physical condition of the patient and what treatments have already been used. Prognosis of people with recurrent lung cancer is poor and most people survive only for a few months after recurrence.
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