Lung Cancer: An Overview
Lung cancer which is thought to be majorly caused by smoking is curable as its early diagnosis is possible. Lung cancer starts with the formation of tumor tissues in the lungs and spreads comparatively faster to lymph nodes as well as other organs in the body including the vital human organ, the brain. Also, the vice versa process is possible when cancer from other organs spread to the lung tissues and leads to metastasis. Anyone can get lung cancer, smoker or non-smoker but as a matter of fact, 1 out of every 16 individuals in the United States is diagnosed with lung cancer and a new diagnosis for lung cancer occurs every 150 seconds. Also, black people are at greater risk for developing as well as dying from lung cancer as compared to other racial and ethnic groups.
Almost two-thirds of all the new diagnoses are in individuals who have never smoked or are former smokers may be due to exposure to high levels of secondary smoke. Majorly from all types of cancer, lung cancer is the leading cause of death in the world.
Lung Cancer Symptoms You Must Not Ignore
It is possible that patients do not develop any signs and symptoms before progressing to the last stage and the disease can be asymptomatic. Also in case, it is symptomatic many patients and clinicians confuse it with mainstream respiratory infections.
Majorly observed symptoms of this disease are as follows:
- There are visible changes in an individual’s voice such as hoarseness.
- Majorly the symptoms resemble commonly occurring chest infections like bronchitis and pneumonia. Recurrence of such diseases such as bronchitis as well as pneumonia which either does not go away and keep coming back in lung cancer patients.
- Hoarseness in voice is observed
- Also, swelling is observed in the lymph nodes majorly in the centre of the chest
- A lingering cough begins worsening with chest pain.
- Shortness of breath, as well as wheezing, is observed such as in the case of asthmatic patients. Sudden onset of severe chest pain which worsens with deep breathing, coughing as well as during laughing.
- Severe symptoms include severe chest pain along with bone pain as well as bone fractures
- Severe headaches are experienced and also the cough is accompanied by blood clots and sometimes bleeding.
- Changes in dietary patterns are observed such as appetite loss along with significant weight loss. Thus Cushing syndrome is also observed and ACTH hormone (Adrenocorticotropic hormone which stimulates the production of cortisol) and thus cortisol levels rise. The weight gain occurs due to cancerous cells and fluid retention. Also, hypercalcemia as well as SIADH (Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone) secretion which is a condition in which the body makes too much antidiuretic hormone (ADH). SIADH causes the human body to retain too much water along with associated effect on kidneys.
- Also, eye problems are common symptoms of lung cancer and Pancoast tumour which is a tumor of the apex of the lung primarily by its location situated at the top end of either the right or left lung. It typically spreads to nearby tissues such as the ribs and vertebrae.It affects nerves present in the eyes and also called horner syndrome. The symptoms include a small pupil in either of the eyes with a droopy eyelid. Also, there is no sweating on that either side of the face and increased troubles in vision.
- In the case of males, swollen breasts due to lung cancer occur termed as gynecomastia and large-cell lung cancer disrupts the hormone balance as well as cause tenderness and swelling in male breast tissue.
- The persistent coughing up blood is in form of rust-coloured sputum which occurs in spit or phlegm.
- Surprisingly, some uncommon symptoms include fattened fingertips as some particular forms of lung tumours result in the formation of hormonal chemicals. These hormonal secretions push more blood as well as fluid to the tissues of patient’s fingertips which make them look usually thicker as compared to normal. In addition to this, the skin in proximity of nails becomes shiny and nails curve more than normal when viewed from the side. Thus, finger clubbing has a strong correlation to lung cancer.
- Persistent degradation of mental wellbeing:After being diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer many patients informed about visiting mental health professional first time in their lifetime during the onset of illnesses like anxiety, high-stress levels, depression as well as dementia. It is because lung cancer affects brain chemistry and formation of brain chemicals. In addition to this, escalated calcium levels are linked to cancer which results in confusion, high-stress levels and muddled thinking.
- Back Pain, as well as shoulder pain, is observed in form of Pancoast tumour in which tumour grows in the upper part of your lung and starts spreading to patient’s rib cage, vertebrae in spine, nervous system as well as blood vessels. Thus,tumour spreads to the shoulder blade, upper back as well as hurts in the arm.
- Fatigue occurs majorly in lung cancer due to low red blood cell count and thus anemia commonly occurs in lung cancer. Hence,anemia results in fatigue as the body’s tissues have a deficiency of oxygen.
- The balance is lost in lung cancer in case of small-cell lung cancers affects the immune system too and thus affects the patient’s nervous system as well as the normal working of muscles.
Learn about the risk factors for lung cancer and what you might be able to do to help lower your risk.
Smoking causes the majority of lung cancers — both in smokers and in people exposed to secondhand smoke. But lung cancer also occurs in people who never smoked and in those who never had prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke. In these cases, there may be no clear cause of lung cancer
- Lung cancer occurs due to exposure to secondhand or secondary smoke.
- Smoke from industrial areas or in crowded spaces with people smoking in places without good ventilation.
- Also, previous radiation therapy can cause mutations in cells of the lungs and cause lung cancer.
- Exposure to radon gas can cause the onset of lung cancer.
- In addition to this exposure to asbestos as well as other carcinogens can also cause lung cancer.
- Inheritance of lung cancer genes from patients with lung cancer.
What are the types of lung cancer?
Non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer are the two major types of lung cancer. The differentiation is because of the difference in the size of the cell when viewed from the microscope.
- Non-small cell lung cancer, which is the leading type of cancer, has 3 subtypes i.e. adenocarcinoma, squamous cell cancer as well as large cell carcinoma.
- Small cell lung cancer has a very small-celled size when viewed from the microscope and also it grows faster and spreads faster as compared to the non-small cell lung cancer.
Diagnosing lung cancer:
Lung cancer can be diagnosed by a variety of tests which include:
- Imaging tests such an X-ray image of the patient’s lungs reveals an abnormal mass in form of a nodule. Also, a CT scan can reveal small lesions in the patient’s lungs.
- Sputum cytology is useful in detecting abnormal cells in the sputum. The analysis of sputum is done under a microscope. This microscopic analysis helps in revealing the evidence of cancer cells in the lung tissues
- Biopsy using a tissue sample can be performed by removal of specific tissue from lungs using bronchoscopy by examining abnormal areas of lungs via a lighted tube which passes down your throat and consequently in the lungs.
Smoking and Lung Cancer
Smokers often consume chemical toxins which block their immune systems and hence reducing the body’s resistance. Often these chemicals make it harder for smokers’ body cells to kill cancerous cells in the lungs and thus the cancerous lung cells continue to grow and divide even before they are detected and diagnosed. Also, the poisonous substances in tobacco smoke can have disastrous effects on cellular DNA. In addition to cigarettes, cigars, as well as pipe smoking, are also linked with lung cancer and tobacco products contain more than 7,000 chemicals and about at least 70 of them are causative of lung cancer . Thus, it is an evident fact that 9 out of every 10 lung cancers deaths occur by smoking along with exposure to secondhand smoke.
Secondhand or secondary smoke comes from the burning end of a cigarette and can be breathed out by individuals smoking and inhaled by others. As per research studies, within a time interval of 10-15 years after quitting smoking the risk of developing and progressing lung cancer reduces by half. The risk for lung cancer increases in direct relation with the number of cigarettes smoked every day along with the total number of years a smoker spends smoking. As a matter of fact, it must be emphasized that starting smoking at an early age will put smokers at increasingly higher risk in their future life. Thus the rates of lung cancer start increasing approximately around 40 years of age and peak at the age of 70. Also, 15 -20 patients of every 100 lung cancer patients had never smoked but exposure to secondhand smoke makes it even more dangerous .
**Some additional risks associated with lung cancer **
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), such as bronchitis and emphysema, along with worsening of asthma.
- Also, it can result in high blood pressure along with serious ulcers as well as increased risks of osteoporosis as well as diabetes.
- Lung cancer can put patients into greater risks of reproductive disorders including infertility, premature menopause as well as sudden miscarriage.
- The lung cancer tumours have the possibility of pressing the large vein which transports blood between the vital organs such as heart, head as well as arms. It puts in increased risks of swelling on facial tissues, neck as well as upper chest and arms.
- Also, lung cancer creates substances and by-products similar to hormones which pose additional risks causing paraneoplastic syndrome which includes muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting, seizures and in severe cases coma.
Stages of Lung Cancer:
The different lung cancer stages tell how far cancer has spread and helped in guided treatment. The 4 major stages of non-small cell lung cancer are:
- Stage 1: In this lung, Cancer is found in the lung whereas cancer does not spread outside the lung.
- Stage 2: At this stage cancer is found in the lung along with cancer in nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage 3: The third stage of lung cancer is associated with lung and lymph nodes in the middle of the chest.
- Stage 3A: In this lung cancer is found in lymph nodes but only on the same side of the chest where cancer first started growing.
- Stage 3B: At this stage, the lung cancer has spread to lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest or to lymph nodes above the collarbone.
- Stage 4: In this stage, lung cancer has spread to both lungs, into the area around the lungs, or to distant organs. At the time of diagnosis, two out of three people with SCLC are already in the extensive stage.
Treatment for Lung Cancer
As per the stage of lung cancer and its progression, suitable treatment is referred to. The surgical options include cutting out the affected tissue by operation whereas in the case of chemotherapy specialized medications are used to shrink and kill the cancerous cells by intravenous and orally administered medication.
The various types of surgical options are as follows:
- The surgical options include lobectomy in which there is the removal of an entire lobe of the lung.
- Also, Sublobar resection is used as wedge resection or “segmentectomy if lung function is not proper and prohibits lobectomy.
- The pneumonectomy is used if the entire lung is to be taken out.
- Also, mediastinoscopy is performed via a small incision in the lower neck above the breastbone (sternum) and also used to sample the lymph nodes in the central chest (mediastinum).
Radiation Therapy: In the case of radiation therapy, high-energy rays such as X-rays are used for killing the lung’s cancerous cells such as for small, localized lung cancer by stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT).
Targeted Therapy: In the case of targeted therapy, certain drugs are used to block the growth and the spread of cancer cells in lung tissues. Treatment for lung cancer patient occurs by an alliance of surgeon who specializes in the chest and lungs (thoracic surgeon), a lung specialist (pulmonologist), a medical oncologist as well as a radiation oncologist.
Stage wise treatment options for NSCLC are as follows:
- For the 1st Stage of NSCLC(non-small cell lung cancer) surgery is used to remove a portion of the lung which affected, and chemotherapy is also recommended for the chance of developing a high risk of recurrence.
- For the 2nd Stage of NSCLC, it is important to surgically remove the part or whole of your lung and chemotherapy is a better option.
- For the 3rd Stage of NSCLC, it is important to provide a combination of chemotherapy, surgery as well as radiation treatment.
- For 4th Stage of NSCLC, the chances of curing it fully are minimum and surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy as well as immunotherapy are used.
- The treatment for small cell lung cancer is surgery, chemotherapy, as well as radiation therapy.
Also, some home-based treatment is used to relieve patients’ suffering such as massage, Acupuncture: for easing the pain, nausea as well as vomiting but not advisable for low blood counts and patients taking blood thinners. Also, hypnosis is helpful to relax from nausea, pain, and anxiety. Thus, alternative medicine can be used in place of standard treatments such as special diets, herbal preparations and cannabis oils, megadose vitamins, and magnet therapy.
The Role of KareOptions in your Cancer Journey:
KareOptions is a market leader in providing personalized services to patients. If you have been diagnosed with cancer after a biopsy, then a second opinion may be a prudent way to move towards an optimal treatment plan. To explore our Medical Second Opinion Service (MSOS) and Second Opinion Board Review (SOBR), please visit www.kareoptions.com
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