Everything You Need To Know About Lung Cancer!

Overview | Types | Stages | Causes | Symptoms | Risks factors | Diagnosis | Treatment |

What is lung cancer?

As it’s name suggests, the cancer develops in the lungs is called lungs cancer. It occurs when cells of the lungs begins to divide and grow uncontrollably. Lung cancer typically starts in the cells lining the bronchi and parts of the lungs, such as bronchioles and alveoli.

Lung cancer not only adversely affects the functioning of the lungs but also can impact the whole body, if spreads. There is no doubt that it’s a deadly disease.

Fact: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer – related deaths World wide, including men and women both. In India, there are more than 1 million cases of lungs cancer diagnoses every single year.

Types of lungs cancer:

Lungs cancer can be prominently divided into two main types, i.e.

  1. Non – Small Cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – This type of lungs cancer is actually an umbrella term of various types of lungs cancer. Around 80 – 85% of lung cancer cases are of this type. It is further divided into three parts:
  2.  Adenocarcinoma – This type of long cancer is develops in those cells that would normally secrete substances like mucus. It is widely diagnosed in smokers, but also the most common type of cancer ever found in non – smokers. It is mostly diagnosed in women than men, and younger adults than the old ones.

It actually found in the outer parts of the lungs. Hence, has a high chances to be found before get spread.

  • Squamous Cell cancer – The flat cells that line the inside of the airways in the lungs are called squamous cells. Squamous cell cancer develops in squamous cells. This type of cancer mainly found in the centre of the lungs, near bronchus, the main airway. Oftentimes, it is found to be related to history of smokers.
  • Large cell carcinoma – It can be found in any part of the lungs, and grows and spreads more quickly than other. This makes it’s treatment more harder.

Less common types are — adenosquamous carcinoma and sarcomatoid carcinoma

  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) – It is also called oat cell cancer. This type of cancer grows more quickly, but less common, than the Non – small cell lung cancer. It generally occur in those patients who are heavy smokers.

About 10 – 15 % of all long cancer cases are small cell lung cancer. It responses well to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but unfortunately, it returns after sometime in most of the people.

Other types of lung tumors:

  • Lung carcinoid tumour
  • Adenoid cystic carcinomas
  • Lymphomas
  • Sarcomas

And other being tumours.

Stages of lungs cancer –

Staging describes how far the cancer has spread throughout your body and how severe it is. Treatment of all types of cancers is broadly depends on the stage of cancer.

Stages of non – small cell lung cancer: It’s stages describes the size and spread of tumour.

  • Occult or hidden stage – In this stage, cancer can not be visible on the imaging scans but cancerous cells may appear in the mucus.
  • Stage 0 – There are abnormal cells only in the top layer of cells lining the airways.
  • Stage 1 – A tumour of about 4 centimetres or under is present in the body, but does not spread to any other parts of the body.
  • Stage 2 – The tumour is 7 centimetres or under, and might have spread to some nearby tissues and lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3 – In this, the cancer has spread to lymph nodes, with some parts of the lungs and it’s surroundings.
  • Stage 4 – In this stage, cancer gets spread to the distant body parts such as brain etc.

Stages of small cell lung cancer –

  • Limited stage: In this, the cancer is considered only in the lungs. The cancer affects only one side of the chest, although, it may be present in some surrounding lymph nodes. It generally can be treated with radiation therapy.
  • Extensive stage: In this, cancer gets spread beyond the other side of the chest. It can affect the other lung or other parts of the body.

Causes of lung cancer:

Prominently, in 90% cases, smoking is considered as a main cause of lungs cancer (active and passive both) . But there are some cases, in which people who have never smoked are also diagnosed with lungs cancer. In this condition, the actual cause of lungs cancer is still unknown.

When you stop smoking, your risk of getting lung cancer begins to decrease automatically.

According to American Lung Association, exposure to radon is the second leading cause of getting lungs cancer.

Breathing in hazardous environment can also lead to lungs cancer, if prolonged. Mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer, is caused due to exposure of asbestos. Along with inherited genes of cancer, elements like arsenic, chromium, uranium etc. Can also lead to lung cancer.

Lung diseases, air pollution, diesel exhaust etc. Also results in lung cancer.

Symptoms of lung cancer:

Symptoms of both the types are almost same. Common symptoms are —

  • Worsening cough
  • Coughing with mucus or blood
  • Chest pain, that gets worsen on breathing, coughing etc.
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Respiratory infections such as pneumonia etc.

Some symptoms according to particular part:

  • Bones – In the back, hips or ribs
  • Brain or spine – numbness in arm or tissues,  headache, etc.
  • Lymph nodes – lymph particularly in collar bone or neck
  • Lived – Jaundice

Risks factors:

  • Smoking
  • Passive smoking
  • Radiation therapy
  • Family History
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals

Complications:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fluid in the chest
  • Coughing up blood
  • Pain
  • Metastasis

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis will starts with a physical examination. After that, some diagnostic tests to diagnose lungs cancer are —

  • Imaging tests, such as MRI, CT scan, X-ray etc.
  • Sputum cytology
  • Biopsy
  • Tissue sampling
  • Laboratory test of blood, sputum and pleural effusion etc.

Treatment of lungs cancer:

Before beginning with any of these treatment options, you should talk to your doctor about which treatment is suitable for you. Because all these treatments have some adverse effects.

Some treatment options are —

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Targeted therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Palliative therapy

Based on stages of NSCLC are —

  • Stage 1: Surgery and chemotherapy
  • Stage 2: surgery and chemotherapy
  • Stage 3: Combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy
  • Stage 4: Surgery, radiation therapy, chemo, immunotherapy and targeted therapy.

Based on SCLC are —

  • Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and palliative care treatment.

Home remedies:

  • Acupuncture
  • Meditations
  • Yoga
  • Massage

Diet tips :

  • Consume anything healthy when you have an appetite
  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day
  • Drink mint and ginger tea
  • Avoid too many spices
  • Drink lots of water
  • Eat high–fibre foods
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