Stage 4 lung cancer: symptoms before death, survival rate, life span and treatment

Medically reviewed: 15, February 2024

Read Time:10 Minute

Lung cancer symptoms on stage 4 before death

Lung cancer is a common dangerous pathology that occurs in a malignant form. There are several stages of oncology. What are the symptoms that occur before death with lung cancer stage 4?

Stages of lung cancer: overview

Lung cancer is formed due to pathological changes in the cell structure of the organ. Why they arise, it is not clear until now. But to start the mechanism of the development of the disease is capable of many adverse events.

In cancer, there are 5 main stages: 0, I, II, II and IV. Thus, the fourth stage is the last. Such cancer is sometimes called common, metastatic (as one of the most frequent and main characteristics of grade 4 lung cancer is the appearance of distant metastases in different organs).

  • Tumor foci are found in both lungs.
  • The cancer has spread to the pleura (a film of connective tissue that covers the lungs and lines the inside of the chest) or the pericardium (pericardial bag).
  • There is one distant metastasis in the lymph nodes, liver, bone, or other organ.

In stage IVB, there are several distant metastases, several foci in the same or in different organs.

These include the following factors:

  • Smoking and alcohol abuse.
  • Exposure to radiation.
  • Work in hazardous industries.
  • Improper nutrition.
  • Diseases of the respiratory organs.

Among the provoking phenomena include hereditary predisposition. People with close relatives suffering from oncology should be regularly examined, as they are at risk.

How often does the fourth stage of lung cancer occur?

Since there are no symptoms in the early stages, often at the time of diagnosis, lung cancer already has time to reach the fourth stage. Unfortunately, this picture is quite common.

Regular screening tests help diagnose the disease in the early stages. The most effective method is computed tomography. According to the recommendations of experts from the American Cancer Society (American Cancer Society), people who are at high risk should be regularly checked: at the age of 55–74 years who smoked for 30 years, they smoke for the last 15 years.

Symptoms of lung cancer at stage 4

Lung cancer stage 4 can not be treated, so the question arises only about how much a person left to live. The latter degree of the disease is very poorly tolerated by patients. They lose weight a lot, as nutrition in case of lung cancer is poor due to lack of appetite. Also, patients fall into depression, which makes it difficult to conduct therapy.

Symptoms of lung cancer stage 4:

  • Constant feeling of drowsiness.
  • Disturbance of attention, orientation in space.
  • Confusion of speech.
  • Severe coughing, tormenting mostly at night. When it is abundant sputum.
  • The phlegm becomes dense, purulent and blood impurities are noticeable in it.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Difficulty swallowing food.
  • Swelling of the legs and arms.
  • Circulatory failure in the body, which is manifested venous spots.
  • The development of anemia, which speaks of the lesion of the bone marrow.

In stage 4, the symptoms and signs of the disease are most pronounced, because metastases spread throughout the body, affecting the brain, visual and auditory organs. The patient suffers from severe pain, which torments almost the entire body. Strong painkillers help to get rid of this sign of cancer.

Causes of death of lung cancer at stage 4

There are many reasons due to which the death of the patient occurs at 4 stages of pathology. But there are three main factors that most often precede death.

The first is bleeding in the lung. Hemorrhage does not occur suddenly. It develops gradually. First, the patient notices blood impurities in the sputum, and then is expectorated with blood.

Against this background, an abscess pneumonia appears, the lungs are completely affected, the blood vessels are destroyed, leading to severe hemorrhage and death of the person. Also the cause of death can be bleeding in the brain, resulting from metastasis.

Another factor of death is chemotherapy poisoning. Stage 4 lung cancer is incurable, so the patient’s condition is maintained with the help of chemicals. Unfortunately, this technique also inhibits healthy cells of the body. At the last stage, the immune system is very weak and unable to fight the toxic effect of chemotherapy, so the person dies.

Another cause of death is the failure of the breathing function. In the advanced degree of disease, the lung tissue dies off, and the waste products of atypical cells accumulate in them. All of this leads to blockage of the respiratory alveoli and difficulty in breathing. The patient develops severe shortness of breath, due to which the patient at one moment loses the ability to breathe and dies from suffocation.

Complication of lung cancer stage 4: pleurisy

In lung cancer stage 4, exudative pleurisy can occur – a condition in which inflammation occurs in the pleura, and fluid accumulates between its sheets.

Causes of pleurisy in cancer patients:

  1. Metastases in the pleura, resulting in increased capillary permeability, and fluid from them enters the pleural cavity.
  2. Metastases to the lymph nodes of the chest, resulting in disrupted lymph flow, fluid accumulates in the tissues and in the pleural cavity.

When pleurisy the patient cannot take a deep breath, he is tormented by a stubborn dry cough due to irritation of the nerve endings in the pleura, he constantly feels bad, feels weak. Over time, shortness of breath increases, the person becomes pale, lies on the affected side so that a healthy lung can better smooth out during breathing.

Fluid in the pleural cavity is detected using X-ray, computed tomography, and sometimes ultrasound. A diagnostic pleural puncture is performed, and if the situation remains unclear, video-assisted thoracoscopy.

Death conditions at the stage 4 lung cancer

Lung cancer on 4th stage

In lung cancer, a person dies gradually. There are several conditions that are referred to as deaths. These include:

  1. Predagony. When it is observed disruption of the central nervous system. The patient does not move, does not show mental activity, his skin becomes bluish, blood pressure goes down. During treatment, this condition can last for a long time.
  2. Agony. This period usually precedes the most lethal outcome. The internal systems of the body lose their function. At the end of this state, breathing and blood flow are slowed down. The agony lasts a few hours.
  3. Clinical death. The activity of the body completely stops, which allows to state death. Resuscitation at 4 stages of oncology is not performed.
  4. Biological death. It is recorded when the death of the brain and the occurrence of irreversible processes in the body are established.

How long can people live with lung cancer at stage 4?

Patients ask doctors, how long people can live with lung cancer stage 4? But no doctor can give an accurate forecast. However, it is certain that death is inevitable. And this is despite the fact that now there are a lot of modern methods of dealing with oncology.

At the last stage of the pathology, the internal organs are affected by metastases, which leads to their dysfunction. Therefore, patients often die not because of the malignant neoplasm itself, but as a result of the disruption of the activity of an organ. If metastases appear in the heart, brain, kidneys and liver, then the person will not be able to live for a year.

At best, patients can achieve life extension up to 5 years with the help of maintenance therapy. But such cases are quite few.

Treatment of stage 4 lung cancer

Can lung cancer be cured at the stage 4?

Absolutely accurately recover from the disease is impossible. Therefore, the therapy is aimed at maintaining the patient’s normal state, ridding him of the painful consequences of pathology.

At stage 4 of lung cancer, chemotherapy is most often prescribed. It helps to reduce the size of tumors, which helps to alleviate the human condition. But this technique has a negative effect on the entire body. With a weak immune system, the patient has complications.

Also used in the treatment of lung cancer stage 4 thoracocentesis. During the process, accumulated fluid is extracted from the pulmonary cavity. In addition, the treatment is carried out using radiation and immunotherapy.

Be sure to follow a diet for lung cancer 4 degrees. This will support the activities of internal organs. Although it is very difficult to introduce the patient to the diet, as he does not want to eat at all, which depletes the body even more.

Folk remedies for lung cancer stage 4 does not apply, because from them there is no effect. Doctors only allowed to drink herbal teas to provide the body with nutrients.

Targeted therapy for lung cancer stage 4

In order to properly prescribe treatment, first of all it is necessary to conduct a molecular genetic study of tumor cells, to find out what mutations are present in them, what substances are necessary for their growth and survival. These substances can be blocked with the help of targeted drugs, thereby stopping the growth of the tumor and reducing its size:

  • For mutations in the ALK gene, crizotinib is used (usually a first-line drug), ceritinib, alektinib, brigatinib (second-line drugs, which are usually prescribed if criszininib is no longer valid).
  • For mutations in the EGFR gene, erlotinib, gefitinib, afatinib are used.
  • For mutations in the ROS1 gene, crisotinib is prescribed.
  • For mutations in the BRAF gene, a combination of dabrafenib and trametinib is prescribed.

Molecular genetic analysis, which allows you to choose a personalized treatment for cancer – a relatively new diagnostic method. Unfortunately, far from any clinic there is an opportunity to carry it out.

Immunotherapy for lung cancer stage 4

One of the main reasons for the rapid growth of cancer cells is that they are able to defend themselves, to mask themselves from the immune system.

Medical treatment helps the immune system to restore the ability to recognize and attack cancer cells. If the concentration of PD-L1 protein in lung cancer cells is high, stimulants of immune system from the class of monoclonal antibodies can help.

Chemotherapy for lung cancer stage 4

If the above mutations are not found in cancer cells, chemotherapy courses are prescribed. Chemotherapy drugs can be combined with pembrolizumab, bevacizumab, necytumaumab.

When prescribing a treatment, the chemotherapist will necessarily take into account the possible side effects of chemotherapy drugs and the patient’s state of health.

Treatment of exudative pleurisy in lung cancer stage 4

If a fluid is found in the pleural cavity, it is evacuated with a special needle and syringe. This procedure is called pleurocentesis. After it in the pleural cavity leave a tube connected to the bag, which subsequently flows into the liquid.

More than half of patients with pleurisy can cope with chemotherapy, which destroys metastases in the pleura. But this method of treatment is effective only if the cancer cells are sensitive to chemotherapy.

If chemotherapy does not help, pleurodesis is resorted to: a drug is injected into the pleural cavity, which glues the pleura leaves, after which no liquid can accumulate between them.

How to relieve symptoms of lung cancer stage 4?

Complications, side effects of chemotherapy, radiation therapy can join the symptoms of lung cancer in stage IV. Symptom relief includes the following main areas:

  • The fight against pain, for which often have to use narcotic analgesics.
  • Treatment of exudative pleurisy.
  • Supportive therapy that helps to comfortably tolerate chemotherapy.
  • Detoxification, antiemetic therapy.
  • Restorative treatment.
  • Support the work of the lungs, heart, liver.

If the patient requires a long-term administration of chemotherapy drugs, the doctor can install an implantable port system. It is a small reservoir, which is hemmed under the skin and connected with a catheter with a vein. After that, in order to introduce the drug into the vein, it suffices to pierce the skin and the membrane of the reservoir with a needle.

Cancer Prevention

Cancer is an insidious disease that spares no one. But the health of the body in the hands of every person. Therefore, people can significantly reduce the risk of developing a cancer. For this you need to pay attention to the following recommendations of doctors:

  • Do not smoke.
  • Fluorography every six months
  • Eat right.
  • Spend more time outdoors.
  • Choose areas for living with a favorable environment.
  • Try not to contact with chemical, toxic substances and poisons.

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