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Is there a difference?

Sandi1's picture
Posts: 278
Joined: Aug 2008

Is there a difference between Lung Cancer and cancer in the lungs that stem from colon cancer?

CherylHutch's picture
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

From how it's been explained to me... "Lung cancer" is when the cancer in the lung is the primary cancer. If it were to spread from the lung to say, the breast, then you are still considered to have lung cancer, only now it is metasticized.

Cancer in the lungs that stem from the spread of colon cancer is still considered to be colon cancer and is treated with the same treatments that colon cancer would use.

A biopsy is the only way of knowing if the cancer in your lungs is a new primary cancer (IE: lung cancer) or if it is a spread from your primary colon cancer. Sometimes that biopsy is not possible until/unless the tumours are removed surgically and sent to pathology, or if a needle biopsy can be performed... but often a needle biopsy can only tell that the tumour is malignant or not and can't actually determine if it is a spread or a primary cancer.

I don't know if the above makes any sense but the difference really would be on what kind of treatment (chemo) they would give to kill the cancer. If they believe it is spread from the colon cancer, then the chemo they would use would be the same as used for colon cancer.



KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

Cheryl, you described it sooooo well!!!!!

One of my patient partners has just had this experience, and she is going on FOLFOX, I believe, (or FOLFRI...sigh, so many) because it is still colon cancer. They did surgery to remove a wedge of her lung, and the biopsy showed it was colon cancer. She had an additional test on the tumor tissue, tho....one that is new since January. It tests on the gene level, and targets the most effective chemo for the type of tumor. You might ask about it, if it becomes necessary.

Hugs to you both!

Hugs, Kathi

PGLGreg's picture
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

I think that a pathologist can examine a tissue sample using various techniques and distinguish between a primary lung tumor and a metastasized colorectal tumor (as the other replies have said or implied). I just spent a little time looking for more specific information on the Web but didn't find anything exactly relevant. But I did find an interesting site on pathology with many cross references to images of tissue samples and other information: http://www.pathologyoutlines.com/ . Two sublinks that appear relevant are "Colon-tumor" and "Stains and molecular markers".

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