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What Is the Concern about Lung Cancer in the Lymph Nodes?

Article Details
  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 February 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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The main concern about having lung cancer in the lymph nodes is that it usually means the cancer has begun to spread, or metastasize. Once cancer cells begin to spread, they often become much harder to control and destroy. The farther a cancer has spread and the more aggressive it is, the less likely a patient is to survive. The lymph nodes are often the first place to which lung cancer metastasizes.

Lung cancer generally refers to any malignancy that originates in the lungs. This is known as primary lung cancer. It may cause a mass, or tumor, to grow inside of the lungs. Eventually cancer cells begin to spread to other regions of the body. If it is found that a patient has lung cancer in the lymph nodes, this typically means that the process of metastasis has already begun.

There are various lymph nodes found both inside the lungs and surrounding them in the chest wall. Lung cancer in the lymph nodes found inside of the lungs, or the intrapulmonary lymph nodes, is usually classified as second stage cancer. Third stage cancer may refer to lung cancer in the lymph nodes directly surrounding the lungs in the chest wall, while stage four refers to cancer cells in any other area of the body.

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Once cancer cells invade the lymph nodes, it often begins traveling and growing much faster. The nodes are part of the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s immune system. Lymph nodes are interconnected to one another, as well as to other lymphatic organs, such as the liver. It is not uncommon for lung cancer to eventually spread into the liver, breasts, or bones.

When patients are found to have lung cancer in the lymph nodes, aggressive treatment is often required. This usually includes chemotherapy treatments as well as radiation and surgery. Surgical procedures are usually performed to remove the primary tumor or tumors, and often the lymph nodes themselves are removed.

Surgery is generally followed up with chemotherapy and radiation. These are treatments when use strong medications and radiation waves to kill cancer cells. If the cancer has not spread beyond the lymph nodes, it is much easier to treat than cancers which have moved into the rest of the body.

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