Outlook for squamous cell lung cancer | Cancer Research UK
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Outlook for squamous cell lung cancer

After surgery to remove a squamous cancer of the lung, what is the outlook? Is there a risk of it coming back?

Squamous cell lung cancer is one of a group of lung cancers called non small cell lung cancers. The treatment for these if they are caught early enough is surgery to remove them. But unfortunately, yes there is a risk of the cancer coming back.

Cancer starts when a cell, or group of cells, goes wrong and begins to grow in an uncontrolled way. Any of these cells can break away from the growing lump and travel through the blood or lymphatic system to another part of the body. So, although the primary cancer has been removed, any escaped cancer cells could start growing somewhere else. The most common areas for lung cancer to spread to are

Cells can also be left behind in the area of the lung after surgery. Surgeons try to make sure this doesn't happen by taking away a border (margin) of healthy tissue around the cancer. The margin of tissue reduces the risk of any cells being left behind. But your doctor may suggest chemotherapy and possibly radiotherapy to help lower the risk of the cancer coming back after surgery.

You can ask your doctor about the stage of your cancer. The earlier the stage (the smaller the cancer and the more localised it was), the smaller the risk of it coming back. You can find detailed information about the outlook (prognosis) for the different stages of non small cell lung cancer on our outlook and statistics for lung cancer page. But it is important to remember that statistics can only give you a general picture. They can't tell you exactly what will happen to you.

A diagnosis of cancer can mean that you feel you have an uncertain future. This can be very difficult to cope with. If you'd like to talk to someone about this, you can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You can also look at our page of lung cancer organisations to find people who can help to support you. And the coping with cancer section gives information about counselling.

If you want to find people to share experiences with on line, you could try CancerChat, our online forum.

You can find more information about lung cancer treatment in the lung cancer section.

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Updated: 11 April 2014