Cancer is a disease where cells in the body multiply out of control. Lung cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the lungs and may spread to lymph nodes or other organs in the body, such as the brain. However, cancer from others may also spread to the lungs. When cancer cells extend from one organ to another, they are called metastases.
Lung cancer has become the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Lung cancer can occur in people who smoke and who don't smoke. You can increase your chance of Lung cancer if you smoke extensively. If you quit smoking, you can considerably reduce your chances of developing lung cancer.
You won't be able to identify lung cancer because it typically doesn't cause signs and symptoms in its most initial stages. When it is at advanced stages, you can observe the symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of lung cancer may consist of:
A recent cough that doesn't go away
Coughing up a small or large amount of blood
Shortness of breath
Losing weight without trying
Types of lung cancer
Doctors have divided lung cancer into two major types based on lung cancer cells' appearance under the microscope.
The two common types of lung cancer are:
Small cell lung cancer: This cancer occurs almost exclusively in heavy smokers.
Non-small cell lung cancer: This cancer is more common than small cell lung cancer. It is an umbrella term for several types of lung cancers. Non-small cell lung cancers constitute squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.
After examining you, the doctor will make treatment decisions based on which significant type of lung cancer you have.
Diagnosing lung cancer
After a physical examination, your doctor will inform you how to prepare for specific tests, such as:
Imaging tests: The doctor may recommend an X-ray, MRI, CT, and PET scans for more detailed scans to produce more detail and find smaller lesions.
Sputum cytology: Microscopic examination of a cough can determine if cancer cells are present.
Biopsy: A small tissue is removed from the lung to determine if tumour cells are cancerous.
Bronchoscopy: A lighted tube is passed down your throat and into your lungs while under sedation, consequently allowing more thorough examination.
Mediastinoscopy: The doctor will make an incision at the base of the neck to insert a lighted instrument and surgical tools used to take samples from lymph nodes.
Needle: The doctor may insert a needle through the chest wall and into the suspicious lung tissue with the help of imaging tests as a guide.
The tissue samples will be sent to the lab for analysis to determine the staging of cancer.
The doctor will select a treatment plan for you, depending on your general health and the type and stage of cancer.
Following are the treatments for lung cancer:
Surgery for Lung Cancer:The surgeon will remove all or some cancerous tissue inside the lung and a healthy tissue margin.
Radiation treatments: A powerful beam of energy is used to target and eliminate cancerous cells before and after surgery. It is exerted to kill any cancer cells that may be left after surgery. If cancer has attained an advanced stage or other areas of the body, then radiation therapy may help relieve symptoms, such as pain.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is implemented to kill cancer cells and limit the growth of cancer cells. In the chemo, a combination of drugs is given in a series of treatments over weeks or months, with breaks in between to recover. Chemotherapy provides relief to patients by intake of drugs, which goes into the blood and spread through the body.
Targeted Therapy: These drugs mainly affect cancer cells and not active cells. These drugs block the abnormalities causing cancer cells to die.
Stereotactic body radiotherapy: Stereotactic body radiotherapy, also known as radiosurgery, is used for small lung cancers and people who can't undergo surgery. Radiation is aimed at many angles at cancer to eliminate it.
Immunotherapy: In immunotherapy drugs support your immune system to attack cancer. Immunotherapy works for people with locally advanced lung cancers and cancers that have spread to other parts of the body.
Supportive (palliative) care: To provide relief from pain and other symptoms of a severe illness, palliative care is provided. Palliative care can be used while undergoing surgery and chemotherapy.