Lung Cancer - Health Center

Lung Cancer

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Battling And Defeating Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer is the one which affects lungs of the human body. Lungs are the two pairs of spongy organs in the chest which are known to help the person to inhale, exhale as well as take care of the entire respiration process. Today, Lung Cancer has emerged to be one of the major causes for the occurrence of deaths all over the world. Known to affect men and women equally all over the world, people who indulge in smoking on an everyday basis are the ones who are at a higher risk of contracting the disease as compared to their non smoking counterparts. With the length of the time in which the person smokes as well as the number of the cigarettes a person smokes the chances of contracting Lung Cancer increases drastically.

What Causes Lung Cancer

Since Smoking is one of the major reasons for the occurrence of Lung Cancer, people who are exposed to smoking directly or indirectly both are at a greater risk of contracting cancer. It is a major belief amongst the doctors that smoking damages the cells that line the lungs. When the cigarette smoke is inhaled, then the cancer inducing substances which are known as carcinogens attack the inside lining of the lungs and therefore begin the changes in the tissues of the lungs.  The damage can be reversed in the beginning of the damage, however with the passing of the time; the damage tends to become irreversible. The damage which is caused to the cells causes the tissues to act abnormally and therefore, develop the cancer eventually.

There are two types of Lung Cancer which affects the body:

Small Cell Lung Cancer: This tends to occur basically in people who are heavy smokers and is very rare to be found.

Non Small Cell Lung Cancer: This is a term which is used for a large variety of lung cancers that tend to behave in a similar way. The Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma as well as large cell carcinoma are some of the major cancers which fall under this category.

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer:

In the beginning of the disease, there are no visible signs and symptoms of the disease. However, these symptoms tend to appear in the later stages when the disease has advanced to a great degree. Some of the major symptoms are as follows:

  • Coughing that is consistent, and does not go away
  • Changes in the coughing pattern – chronic cough or smoker’s cough
  • Coughing up of the blood along with the cough
  • Shortness of the breath
  • Pain in the chest
  • Wheezing sensation
  • Hoarseness of the breath
  • Loss in the weight without even trying
  • Pain in the bones
  • Headaches

It is recommended to see a doctor if any of the above signs and symptoms are visible. The doctors would be working up a couple of steps and ways in order to help the patient in order to quit the smoking and therefore, work on strategies such as counselling, medications as well as other nicotine replacement techniques.

Tests and Diagnostic Techniques for Lung Cancer:

People who are at an increased risk of contracting Lung Cancer should be recommended to go in for the Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan. CT Scans are one of the best ways in order to definitely determine the presence of cancer. In case the cancer is diagnosed in the earlier stages, then the treatment options for the same can be applied soon and the chances for recovery are much higher. Benign cancer can require a more invasive testing.

Tests to Diagnose Lung Cancer:

The tests and diagnosis are needed in order to look for the cancerous cells and to rule out the possibility of other conditions as well. The doctors may recommend these tests in order to find the presence of the cancerous cells:

  • Imaging Tests: In this, the X ray images of the lungs are used in order to look for an abnormal mass or even the nodules in the body. The small lesions in the lungs can also be detected with the help of the X rays.
  • Sputum Cytology: in case a person is coughing and is releasing the sputum while coughing, then it can be looked at under the microscope in order to reveal the presence of the lung cancer cells.
  • Tissue Cells: In this, the sample of the abnormal cells can be removed in order to perform a biopsy of the same.

Biopsy can be done in many different ways. Basically, branchoscopy is conducted in which the abnormal areas of the lungs are tested with the help of insertion of a lighted tube down the throat into the lungs. In other cases, mediastinoscopy is conducted in which an incision is made at the base of the neck and tools are inserted to take the tissue samples from the lymph nodes of the person.

Stages of Lung Cancer:

When the diagnosis of the Lung Cancer has been done, the extent of the cancer is determined next in order to look for the most probable treatment options. Staging tests are done in order to allow the doctors to see if the cancer has spread to the other parts of the body. CT Scans, MRI Scans as well as PET scans are done in order to stage the disease properly. The following are the stages of the Lung Cancer:

  • Stage I : In this, the cancer is limited to the lungs and has not spread to the lymph nodes. Also, the tumour is generally restricted to the size of generally 2 inches almost.
  • Stage II : At this stage, the tumour has grown to a size of more than 2 inches and has spread to the nearby chest walls, diaphragm as well as the linings of the lungs. Also, lymph nodes are at a greater risk of contracting the cancer.
  • Stage III : In this, the tumour has grown very large and has spread to the nearby organs. Also, the small tumour has accompanied by the cancer cells in the lymph nodes.
  • Stage IV: In this stage, the cancer has spread to the affected lungs as well as the other lung completely and has even reached the distant areas of the body.

Treatment and Drugs for Lung Cancer:

The treatment options for the cancer are dependent upon the stage of the cancer at which a person is suffering from. There are many different treatment options available such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy as well as targeted drug therapy. The following are the best options as follows:

  • Surgery: This option goes out to remove the lung cancer of the person after maintain a healthy margin of the tissue as well. Some of the best types of surgical options are as wedge resection, segmental resection, lobectomy as well as pneumonectomy. The lymph nodes of the person are checked for the cancer. The surgery also carries along the risks such as the internal bleeding as well as infection. In case the portion of the lung is removed, then the remaining of the tissue expands back to the normal.
  • Chemotherapy: In this, the drugs are used to kill the cancer cells. The drugs are either given intravenously or even are taken orally. The drugs are given over the series of the treatments and are given between the breaks in order to allow the time for the recovery. The therapy is used to shrink the cancerous cells and then makes them easier to remove. 
  • Radiation Therapy: In this, high powered x Rays are used in order to kill the cancer cells and therefore, can be directed to the cancer cells from outside source directly. This therapy is used to kill the cancer cells if they cannot be removed with the help of the surgery. For patients, whose cancer cells are very small, the stereotactic body therapy is also used as an option.
  • Targeted Drug Therapy: This is a new cancer treatment in which the cancer cells are targeted as per their specific abnormalities. Bevacizumab, Erlotinib as well as Crizotinib is used in order to target the specific cancer cells. The side effects of the treatment can include nausea as well as vision problems in some cases.
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