When cancer spread to the lungs from another organ, it is known as secondary lung cancer. It has been seen that secondary lung cancer invariably develops from an adjacent or nearby organ like the thyroid, esophagus or thymus.
However, it can also develop from another organ where the cancerous cells are carried either by the vascular system or lymphatic system as is commonly seen with renal or testicular cancer spreading to the lungs.
Life expectancy when cancer spreads to the lungs is not very high. Invariably when secondary lung cancer develops, it is always discovered in an advanced stage and only in some cases can a surgery be performed. However, when surgery is possible, the life expectancy increases and the 5-year survival rate is round 30 to 40 percent.
The reason for low life expectancy when cancer spreads to the lungs is that the cancer usually does not have any symptoms. And when the patient starts displaying symptoms like coughing, dyspnea and hypoxemia, it is invariably too late to find a cure and doctor concentrate more on pain relieving and making the patient as comfortable as possible. Therefore, once secondary lung cancer is discovered, the concentration is more on palliative care than curative care.
In patients where the cancer is discovered in early stage, it is quite possible for them to have high life expectancy as most of them can have surgery to remove the cancerous part of the lung in addition to having therapy to treat the primary tumor and the secondary lung cancer.
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