by AK Team
Lung cancer is a type of cancer in our body that begins in the lungs. Lungs are a pair of organs in our chest that have spongy texture and are pinkish – gray in color. The lungs’ main function is to help oxygen from the air we breathe enter the red blood cells. The lungs also help the body to get rid of the carbon dioxide gas that we breathe out.
It is one of the leading cause of cancer death all over the world. is most likely to occur in individuals who smoke and they have the greatest risk of having it. It can also occur in people who do not smoke, however smokers are at a higher risk of having it.
There are majorly six types of cancer that occur in the lungs. The most common types are those that are found right in the lungs.
The types are listed below :
- Lung nodules
- Lung nodules are basically small masses of tissue that may grow bigger over a period of time.
- These masses may be benign (non – cancerous ). Precancerous or metastatic tumors that have spread from other parts of the body.
- Usually, a larger nodule is more likely to be cancerous than a smaller one.
- They are usually found when a person is being tested for abdominal pain or an injury.
- Non – small lung cancer
- Non – small type of cancer is the most common type of cancer occurring in individuals.
- It grows and spreads more gradually than small lung cancer.
- There are three main kinds of non – small cell lung cancer and they are named for the type of cells in the tumor :
- Large cell carcinomas
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- For non – small lung cancers that have not spread beyond the lung surface, surgery is used to remove the cancer.
- Surgery may also be used in combination with radiation therapy and chemotherapy in cancers that are more advanced. This is called neoadjuvant therapy.
- Small cell lung cancer
- Small cell lung cancer is a type of cancer whose majority of the cases occur in individuals due to cigarette smoking.
- It is a fast – growing type of lung cancer that spreads much more quickly than other types of lung cancer.
- There are two different types of small cell lung cancer:
- Small cell carcinoma
- Combined small cell carcinoma
- Chemotherapy is the most common treatment for small cell lung cancer, as these medicines circulate throughout the body killing lung cancer cells that may have spread outside of the lung.
- Radiation therapy may also be used to prevent or treat the development of small cell lung cancer that has spread to the brain (metastasis).
- Mesothelioma is a rare type of lung cancer of the chest lining, that is most often caused by asbestos exposure.
- Mesothelioma develops over a long period of time, that is it is a slow – growing cancer, from 30 to 50 years between exposure to asbestos and getting the cancer.
- Most of the people who develop mesothelioma work in places where they inhale asbestos particles.
- Chemotherapy, radiation, surgery – all of the these can be used as a part of treatment for mesothelioma.
- Chest wall tumors
- Chest wall tumors are a rare type of lung cancer.
- Like other cancers, tumors that are found in the chest wall may be benign (non – cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
- Benign tumors will be treated depending on where they are located and the type of symptoms they cause.
- Sarcomas – tumors that start in bone or muscle tissue, or more rarely in other types of tissue – are the most common type of primary tumor that are found in the chest wall.
- Metastasized cancer
- Some cancers in the lung may be the result of pulmonary metastasis.
- Metastasis is a type of cancer that began in another part of the body and spread to the lung through the lymphatic system or bloodstream.
- Almost any cancer can metastasize to the lung, for example – bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer, etc.
There are usually no visible symptoms of lung cancer in the initial stages. Symptoms develop as the condition progresses over a period of time.
Below listed are some of the commonly occurring symptoms :
- A long – standing cough that gets really worse
- A cough that does not go away even after 2 or 3 weeks
- Coughing up blood
- Chest infections that keep coming back
- An ache or pain while breathing or coughing
- Persistent breathlessness
- Persistent tiredness or lack of energy
- Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
- A hoarse voice
- Swelling of face or neck
- Persistent chest or shoulder pain
- Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia)
The exact cause of lung cancer is still unknown yet. But the most common and obvious cause that leads to it is smoking tobacco. Smoking causes the majority of lung cancers – both in active as well as passive smokers. But lung cancer also occurs in people who never smoked and in those who never had prolonged exposure to passive smoking. In these cases, there is no clear cause of it.
If your doctor thinks that you might have lung cancer based upon your symptoms, he might prescribe you to undergo the following diagnostic tests :
- Imaging tests – X-ray, CT scan
- Sputum cytology – if the patient has cough and is producing sputum, examining that sputum cells, the cancer can be detected.
- Tissue sample (biopsy)
The doctor along with the patient will decide a treatment based on the types of symptoms the patient is having.
Following are the list of some treatments that one might consider while thinking to undergo a treatment for cancer :
- Wedge resection
- Segmental resection
- Radiation therapy
- Stereotactic body radiotherapy
- Targeted drug therapy
- Palliative care
Not all types of lung cancer can be prevented. But there are things that an individual can do that might lower his or her risk of developing it. Below listed are some preventive measures that one can undergo to prevent or to reduce the risk of getting it.
- Stay away from tobacco
- Avoid radon exposure
- Avoid or limit exposure to cancer – causing agents
- Eat healthy diet
- Avoid passive smoking as well
- Exercise most days of the week
- Avoid carcinogens at work