When doctors diagnose lung cancer, they also try to determine what stage the cancer is at. This helps them decide on the best course of treatment.

The most prevalent type of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, has four stages. Stage 2 indicates the cancer may have spread beyond the lung into nearby lymph nodes.

Read on to find out more about lung cancer, risk factors, and how stage 2 is diagnosed and treated.

The two main types of lung cancer are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC accounts for 80 to 85 percent of cases.

Medical professionals classify the stages of lung cancer based on a number of factors, including:

  • the size and extent of tumors
  • whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes
  • whether the cancer has spread to distant organs

SCLC is generally categorized as limited stage or extensive stage.

Limited stage SCLC is contained in one lung and possibly certain lymph nodes. Extensive stage SCLC means that the cancer has spread beyond the originally affected lung.

NSCLC is divided into four stages, with each successive stage indicating the cancer is spreading or growing.

In general, stage 2 NSCLC means the cancer may have spread from your lung to the nearby lymph nodes.

Stage 2 can be further broken down into substages 2A and 2B.

Stages 2A and 2B are determined based on tumor size and location, and whether there is cancer in the surrounding lymph nodes.

The primary risk factor for developing lung cancer is smoking cigarettes, which contain carcinogens that affect the lung tissue. Even exposure to secondhand smoke increases risk. Up to 90 percent of lung cancer deaths are linked to smoking.

Other risk factors include being exposed to radon gas or asbestos or having a family history of lung cancer.

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent the lung cancer, eating a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly can reduce your risk.

If you have a history of smoking, quitting can improve your chances of not developing lung cancer.

Not all instances of lung cancer are detected in stage 1, as many of its symptoms are also symptoms of certain noncancerous conditions. Symptoms of SCLC and NSCLC are similar and include:

If you experience these or any other unusual symptoms that you believe may be an indication of lung cancer, visit your doctor. They may order the following tests so they can make a diagnosis:

  • imaging tests such as an X-ray, MRI scan, or low-dose CT scan
  • biopsy, a tissue sample examination
  • sputum cytology, a examination of mucus

Treatment plans depend on the stage in which the lung cancer was detected. For stage 2 lung cancer, if cancer is present only in your lung, surgery may the recommended option.

If the tumor is large, your doctor may recommend radiation therapy or chemotherapy to shrink the cancer prior to surgery.

If your doctor thinks that your cancer may recur or that cancer cells might have been left behind after surgery, they may recommend chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women in the United States. It’s the most common cancer worldwide.

According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for stage 2A lung cancer is about 60 percent and for stage 2B about 33 percent.

Survival rates are estimates and depend on a number of factors related to a person’s overall health as well as the stage of the cancer. You doctor can help you understand your specific situation.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of lung cancer or believe you are at a higher risk due to family history or a history of smoking, speak with your doctor and discuss the possibility of testing for the condition or examining treatment options.