Pulmonary Medical Consultants

27721 State Highway 249, Suite 300, Tomball, TX 77375

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How Fast Does Lung Cancer Grow?

Jun 15, 2021 | Lung Cancer

People often ask us how fast lung cancer progresses and how long it takes to spread. Out of many frequently asked questions, most people ask about how long lung cancer takes to develop. Knowing the growth rate and doubling period of lung cancer is not merely an academic curiosity. Still, it could affect your decision on the treatment’s timing. As far as these questions are concerned, there is no definitive answer. This is because cancer’s behavior varies greatly depending on its type, stage, location, and other factors. However, lung cancer generally progresses faster as compared to its counterparts. But how fast does lung cancer progress? Let’s find out!

Lung Cancer’s Growth, Doubling time, and Proliferation: Q/A

Where does lung cancer progress?
Lung cancer can progress or metastasize to almost anywhere in the body. It can move to nearby tissues as well as distant areas in the body. But the most common areas to which it can metastasize are the liver, bones, brain, or adrenal glands.

Which type of lung cancer spreads the fastest?
Although small cell lung cancer is less common than non-small cell lung cancer, the former grows and spreads faster than the latter. In fact, nearly 70% of small cell lung cancers have already spread at the time of diagnosis. Nonetheless, some non-small cell lung cancer types also proliferate quickly, like large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma and large cell undifferentiated carcinoma.

How long does it take for lung cancer to progress?
It takes around 3 to 6 months for most lung cancers to grow almost twice their size. So, typical lung cancer can take several years to reach a size that can be detected on a chest X-ray.

That said, a person may have lung cancer without knowing that it is developing for years. This is likely because lung cancer is too small to be seen on an X-ray or produce symptoms.

How is metastatic (or stage IV) lung cancer treated?
Treatment for lung cancer varies from patient to patient. For example, surgery is a viable option in treating lung cancer when it spreads locally and to nearby tissues, like lymph nodes or the lung’s lining. Whereas chemotherapy or radiation therapy is more likely to be recommended for lung cancer that has reached distant body parts.

Lung Cancer Symptoms
The common symptoms of lung cancer are coughing, wheezing, chest pain, or shortness of breath. But sometimes, it can develop for years and later become detectable to X-rays. For that reason, we advise you to schedule an appointment with Pulmonary Medical Consultants. An early diagnosis and treatment for lung cancer improve survival rates. Without treatment, the outlook for lung cancer is poor. In fact, lung cancer has become the leading cancer killer in men and women in the United States.


At Pulmonary Medical Consultants, we take a comprehensive and individualized approach to diagnose and treat patients. Our medical oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, and other lung cancer experts work together to develop a tailored treatment plan for each patient. Thus, we ensure the best possible result and quality of life for every one of our patients. For more information about how fast lung cancer progresses and its treatment, call our team of medical consultants at (281) 357-1300. We are more than happy to help you!


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