Stage 3 between A & B - 1252175

Thu, 01/03/2013 - 17:20

My husband was diagnosed with stage 3 NSCLC between a & b. The tumor is inoperable
because it is located too close to the aorta. I was told that it is poorly differentiated. Can you
tell me what this means & what impact it has on his life expectancy? Thank you.

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I'm very sorry your husband has been diagnosed with such an awful disease. My husband too was diagnosed stage 3 over 3 years ago.

If a combo of chemo and radiation can be given then there is chance for a cure. But that would depend on whether the cancer can be reached by radiation without causing damage to the aorta. If not then chemo is given alone and can extend and add quality to life. Unfortunately this can be the most difficult stage to know what treatment to give and a 2nd opinion with a lung cancer specialist is very appropriate.

Below are 2 links. One on the many benefits of 2nd opinions and the other on treatment options for stage 3 nsclc.

I think this will be a good starting point but we have an extensive library of info so search around and ask questions.

forum moderator’s-guide-to-the-second-opinion/…


Judy, I spoke to his pulmonary Dr & he said that it is stage 3A. He also said that the cells were so poorly differentiated that they were unable to determine what it is. But they do know that it is non small cell. I wanted to understand what poorly differentiated means and does this affect life expectancy. Thank you.

laya d.

Poorly differentiated means that the cancer cells have mutated so many times over that they look quite different than the original lung cells. I'll see if I can find a link to help you with this. . .

laya d.

OK. . .here's how our very own Dr. Weiss explained it in a prior thread:

"Here come the birds and bees on GRACE...

After sperm fertilizes an egg, the cell divides, divides again and does so many many times to ultimately make a baby. During this development, cells start to take on more specialized roles and they differentiate more and more through development.

Cancer cells take the opposite path. Cancer cells start as normal body cells that become less mature, less specialized, and more like the cell of an embryo. When they only go a little down this path, they still look a lot like the original normal cells and it's easy to type them. However, sometimes they de-differentiate so severely that they lose any semblance to the original cell from which they came and it's impossible for the pathologist to type them. In this case, they are called "poorly differentiated."..."

The full thread, if you're interested, is here:

Best of luck to you both,

Dr West

The link from Janine providing an introduction to management of locally advanced (stage III) NSCLC really lays out the basics, and overall in this setting, the long-term survival is in the range of 20-25%. Most trials of locally advanced NSCLC don't get so granular that they're breaking down prognosis by many variables within the range of "stage III NSCLC". Overall, there's a bit of a trend toward less favorable outcomes, stage for stage, with a more poorly differentiated NSCLC, but I think it's not likely to be very significantly different from the more general numbers. It's definitely very possible for people with a more poorly differentiated tumor to be cured of stage III NSCLC with good chemo and radiation.

Good luck.


Thank you Dr. West. My husband completed his 2nd round of chemo back in September. He goes to the gym everyday but he also gets very tired. Is this common or should I be concerned? Thank you.

Dr West

I think if he's getting better over time, even if slowly, then it's well within the range of what would be expected. It would be more concerning if things were getting worse rather than better over time despite not being on treatment.

-Dr. West


Thank you Certain Spring:) Yes, he does. When he was first diagnosed back in March 2012, he was in really good physical shape. His first round of chemo was low dose Carboplatin & Taxol along with 7 weeks of radiation. He continued to work out during his first round. He never vomited, but his esophagus did get irritated about 4 1/2 weeks into treatment. That was difficult, nothing hot or cold, everything had to be room temperature and very soft. The second round of chemo was 3x's the dosage and was more difficult. He was very tired and lost every hair on his body. He was extremely happy about that from the neck down :) but not from the neck up. But happily now it is all back and he looks exactly like himself:) His oncologist attributes the fact that he was very physically fit as being the main reason he went through treatment relatively well. He does sleep a little more than he use to but otherwise he's feeling pretty darn good:)


And just to let everyone know, when he started his first chemo treatment e was told by the nurse to try to drink a lot of water. He did exactly that and if you saw him at that time, you never would have known he had cancer and was undergoing treatment, never. The same with the second more intense round but unfortunately the hair loss was the only sign. He never lost weight, lost his color or anything like that. I was so happy for him that he went through it as well as he did.


It's good to hear such positive reports of chemo and radiation treatments. So many people come here with the idea that it will be worse than death and in actuality most people find it quite acceptable. In your husband's case even almost a none issue. Hurray!


Dear Dcareprovider

Just want to also wish you and your husband well.

I can't believe how time has fled for us, with my husband getting so very sick in July 2012, had the drain, gone through chemo and now onTarceva and here we are in January 2013 already! Like Janine said, we tend to expect the worse.




That reminds me of a suggestion I've read at least a doze times here and written myself, Prepare for the worst but expect the best.