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What is stage 1 lung cancer?

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Quick Answer

Stage 1 lung cancer is a nonsmall cell cancer that has not spread from the lung to lymph nodes or other organs of the body, according to WebMD. Nonsmall cell lung cancers receive a stage of 1 to 4 based on their severity. Stage 1 is further divided into 1A and 1B, depending on its size and whether it has spread to other parts of the lung.

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Full Answer

Stage 1A lung cancer is a tumor that is not more than 3 centimeters, states the National Cancer Institute. Stage 1B cancers are tumors that have not spread to the lymph nodes but may have spread to other parts of the lung or the trachea. Stage 1B lung cancers also have at least one of the following characteristics: a tumor between 3 to 5 centimeters, the cancer has spread to the main bronchus or inner membrane of the lung, or part of the lung is collapsed. As of 2015, stage 1 lung cancer has a five-year survival rate of 49 percent if it is stage 1A and 45 percent if it is stage 1B, notes the American Cancer Society.

Physicians typically treat stage 1 lung cancers with surgery or external radiation therapy for patients who cannot have surgery, according to the National Cancer Institute. Other treatment options include a clinical trial, such as surgery plus chemoprevention, surgery plus radiation or chemotherapy, or endoscopic treatment.

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