Treatment for Stage IIIB Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
My wife has just been confirmed through a biopsy of having stage IIIB non-small cell lung cancer. Lymph nodes in her neck and chest are involved. We have yet to see an oncologist. Hope to this week. What treatments are recommended? What other questions should we ask?
Barbara Campling, MD, Medical Oncologist, responds:
Your wife has a non-small cell lung cancer, which originated in the lung and has spread to lymph nodes within the chest and to a lymph node in the neck. The fact that a lymph node in the neck is involved with cancer, without any evidence of spread to other parts of the body outside the chest, makes this a Stage IIIB. This stage of cancer cannot be removed surgically, but is still treatable with radiation therapy. In some cases of Stage IIIB non-small cell lung cancer, there is a small but very real possibility of eradicating the cancer with radiation therapy, and there is definitively hope of cure! Chemotherapy, especially when given concurrently with radiation therapy, can increase the chance of the radiation controlling the cancer within the chest and improve the likelihood of long-term survival. As for what to ask about, I recommend you read about lung cancer and make a list of questions for your oncology team. OncoPilot is a section that you may find helpful. It is designed to help newly diagnosed patients navigate their treatment and has some suggested questions to ask.