What Is Stage 2 Lung Cancer?
A person may have stage 2 lung cancer if doctors see that a lung tumor has started to spread within the lung.
However, stage 2 lung cancer is still an early stage. This means it hasn’t spread out to other parts of the body so doctors can often effectively treat it with options like surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.
Because there are many treatments available, stage 2 lung cancer patients can often live for years or possibly decades after a diagnosis. However, treating stage 2 lung cancer and other lung cancer stages can be very expensive — even with insurance.
Fortunately, Lung Cancer Group can help you access financial compensation to cover stage 2 lung cancer treatment costs and other expenses. See how now with a free case review.
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Stage 2 NSCLC vs. Stage 2 SCLC
Technically speaking, only cases of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) can be considered stage 2. NSCLC cases are classified into 5 stages (0-4) using the Tumor-Node-Metastasis (TNM) system at the time of diagnosis.
Stage 2 NSCLC tumors are often found in or around the bronchi (tubes that carry into the lungs) and may be somewhat blocking airways, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
Stage 2 NSCLC consists of two substages:
- Stage 2A lung cancer: The tumor ranges between 4 and 5 centimeters in size. It’s only found within lung tissue and hasn’t spread.
- Stage 2B lung cancer: The tumor is 5 centimeters or less in size, but it has spread to nearby lung lymph nodes.
Doctors do not use the TNM system to stage cases of small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Instead, if the cancer hasn’t spread very far, doctors will consider the NSCLC to be in a limited stage. A limited stage diagnosis is the equivalent of a stage 1 or stage 2 NSCLC diagnosis.
Unfortunately, only 33% of SCLC patients are in the limited stage when diagnosed. The rest have extensive stage SCLC, which is harder to treat.
Symptoms of Stage 2 Lung Cancer
Symptoms of stage 2 lung cancer are similar to those of stage 1.
- Bloody mucus when coughing
- Chronic cough that worsens over time
- Constant chest pain
- Lung infections
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
However, Moffitt Cancer Center notes that lung cancer stage 2 patients may not have any symptoms. Symptoms typically appear as the cancer worsens into later stages.
Diagnosing Stage 2 Lung Cancer
See a doctor as soon as possible if you suffer from any stage 2 lung cancer symptoms. They will perform a series of tests to confirm a lung cancer diagnosis and note which stage of the cancer you have.
Diagnostic tests for lung cancer include:
- A basic physical examination to assess your symptoms (if any)
- Imaging scans (an X-ray, PET scan, and/or CT scan) to see where the cancer is
- A biopsy (tissue/fluid sample) to examine possibly cancerous tumors
After doctors confirm you have lung cancer, they can use their findings from the biopsy to see if you have NSCLC or SCLC. They can also look at imaging scans to determine how far the cancer has spread, which helps indicate the stage of your cancer.
While it is rare for lung cancer to be diagnosed in stages 1 or 2, it is possible. Talk with your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect lung cancer. Getting an early diagnosis can improve treatment outcomes and survival.
Treatment Options for Stage 2 Lung Cancer
The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center notes that stage 2 lung cancer is typically treated using surgery along with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. Radiation can also be used in some cases.
Learn about top stage 2 lung cancer treatments below.
Chemotherapy drugs are powerful chemicals that kill fast-growing lung cancer cells.
Here is how doctors use lung cancer chemotherapy to treat stage 2 patients:
- After other treatments: Chemotherapy may be recommended after radiation or surgery to destroy remaining lung cancer cells. This is known as adjuvant chemotherapy. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) notes that getting chemotherapy after surgery may help stage 2 NSCLC patients live longer.
- Before other treatments: Doctors may use chemotherapy prior to surgery or radiation therapy to shrink tumors. Doing so makes the tumors easier to remove or destroy. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
- The main treatment: Chemotherapy is sometimes used to get rid of all stage 2 lung cancer tumors and prevent the cancer from recurring (coming back).
- Palliative (pain-relieving) care: If a patient decides not to undergo life-extending treatment, palliative chemotherapy can be used to ease lung cancer stage 2 symptoms and improve quality of life. This type of chemotherapy shrinks tumors and stops their growth.
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Also known as radiotherapy, this treatment uses high-powered beams of energy (such as X-rays) to kill cancer cells.
Doctors may recommend radiation therapy to treat stage 2 NSCLC if surgery isn’t an option, according to the NCI. City of Hope also notes that radiation can be used after other stage 2 lung cancer treatment options to kill remaining cancer cells.
The most common type is external beam radiation therapy, which uses a large machine to aim high-energy beams at a precise point in the lungs. Internal radiation (brachytherapy) is also an option. This involves putting a small solid implant near or in the cancer.
Surgery is the best treatment available for stage 2 NSCLC, according to the NCI. This is because the tumor is only in the lung (or possibly nearby lymph nodes), meaning doctors can surgically take all or most of it out.
Doctors may prescribe several lung cancer surgeries for stage 2 patients, like:
- Lobectomy involves removing the lung lobe (part of the lung) where the tumor is located.
- Sleeve resection removes a lobe, part of the bronchus, and as much of the cancer as possible.
- Pneumonectomy allows doctors to take out the whole lung.
During each type of surgery, any lymph nodes that may have cancer will also be removed.
After surgery, your doctors can look for signs of cancer at the edge of the removed tissue. If they see signs, there may be some cancer cells left behind. Your medical team may prescribe a second surgery or adjuvant chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy in these cases.
Targeted therapy can treat lung cancer stage 2 by attacking specific proteins and genes to limit cancer spread.
Common types of targeted therapy are:
- EGFR inhibitors target the protein EGFR, which lung cancer cells use to grow faster than normal cells. Tagrisso is an EGFR inhibitor that’s sometimes used after surgery to help treat those with stage 1 or 2 NSCLC, according to the ACS.
- KRAS inhibitors prevent lung cancer tumors from using the KRAS protein, which would otherwise allow them to spread.
Many lung cancer targeted therapies are available in clinical trials, which help patients access emerging treatments in carefully created research studies.
Immunotherapy uses lab-made or natural substances to boost the body’s immune system and help it find and destroy cancer cells.
Types of lung cancer immunotherapy include:
- Immune checkpoint inhibitors enhance the immune system’s ability to kill cancer cells. It prevents cancer cells from activating immune checkpoints (such as CTLA-4 and PD-1/PD-L1) and hiding from the immune system.
- T-cell therapy uses modified T-cells to kill lung cancer cells. T-cells are immune cells that fight foreign particles and infection.
- Oncolytic virus therapy uses viruses that have been modified in a lab to eliminate cancer cells.
When used as a neoadjuvant treatment before surgery, immunotherapy has shown success in helping many stage 2 and stage 3 NSCLC patients live longer, as noted in a 2022 Cancers report.
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Stage 2 Lung Cancer Prognosis
The prognosis or expected health outcome of lung cancer stage 2 varies with each patient. Factors such as age, health, treatments used, and type of lung cancer all impact how long someone will live.
The following stage 2 lung cancer patients may have a better prognosis:
- Patients who are otherwise healthy besides having cancer
- Patients with multimodal treatment plans (where several treatments are used)
- Patients with NSCLC, since SCLC grows and spreads faster
- Patients who are young or middle-aged
Stage 2 Lung Cancer Survival Rate
A survival rate is the number of patients still alive a set period of time after a diagnosis. Stage 2 lung cancer patients have higher survival rates than those with more advanced lung cancer.
A 2022 study published in Annals of Oncology found that 64% of stage 2 NSCLC patients treated with aggressive surgery were still alive after 5 years.
Individual survival rates vary depending on factors such as age, health, and lung cancer treatment types. Talk to your oncology provider to learn more about your survival rate.
Find Help for a Stage 2 Lung Cancer Diagnosis
Anyone diagnosed with lung cancer deserves the best medical and financial aid possible. This cancer can be aggressive and bring a lot of uncertainty, but by accessing key resources, patients may live longer and with less stress.
Lung Cancer Group can help you receive financial aid for stage 2 lung cancer treatments and your other expenses right now. Our team has secured millions of dollars in financial aid for patients whose cancer stemmed from exposure to toxins like asbestos.
We may be able to assist you as well. Get a free case review now. Time is limited, so connect with us today — don’t miss your chance to get life-changing lung cancer compensation.
Stage 2 Lung Cancer FAQs
Is stage 2 lung cancer curable?
There is technically no cure for stage 2 lung cancer. However, some stage 2 lung cancer patients may be considered cured if they undergo aggressive treatments and their cancer enters long-term remission.
Some stage 2 lung cancer patients have gone on to live for decades cancer-free thanks to prompt medical treatment.
What is the stage 2 lung cancer life expectancy?
A 2021 JAMA Network Open found that the life expectancy for stage 1 and 2 NSCLC patients was 57 months. This was significantly higher than stage 3 and 4 NSCLC patients, which was just 7 months.
Patients with lung cancer stage 2 can possibly live longer because the cancer isn’t as widespread when compared to the other stages, which makes it easier to treat.
Is stage 2 lung cancer considered early?
Yes. Stage 2 lung cancer is still considered to be one of the earliest stages because the cancer cells haven’t spread far. In most cases, the cancer is just within the lung and sometimes nearby lymph nodes.
Because it’s still considered early-stage cancer, doctors can often use more aggressive treatments to help lung cancer stage 2 patients live longer.
How serious is stage 2 lung cancer?
Lung cancer stage 2 is quite serious — even though it hasn’t reached other parts of the body, it will almost certainly be fatal without treatment.
If a doctor determines you have stage 2 lung cancer, make sure to get aggressive treatments quickly. Our team can help you afford lung cancer treatments. Call (877) 446-5767 to learn more.