Lung cancer accounts for 13 per cent of all new cancer cases and 19 per cent of cancer related deaths worldwide. Lung cancer is a form of cancer that starts in the lungs and reduces the ability to breathe. It can spread to other part of the body in later stage. The first place where lung cancer spread is the lymph node in the center of the chest (mediastinal lymph nodes). In the later stages, lung cancer can spread to distant part of the body, such as liver, brain, or bones.
There are various risk factors associated with lung cancer that is further categorized as modifiable (risk factors you can change) and non-modifiable (risk factors you can’t change).
- Modifiable risk factors:tobacco smoke, second-hand smoke, exposure to radon, asbestos, arsenic.
- Non-modifiable risk factors:family history and air pollution.
Types of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is mainly two types:
- Small cell lung cancers (SCLC):occur in about 10%-15% of lung cancers. SCLC is majorly due to cigarette smoking and only 1% of these tumors occur in non-smokers.
- Non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC):are the commonest type of lung cancer, which is considered for approximately 85%-90% of all lung cancer cases. This has been further divided into three categories as per the type of cells found in the tumour – Adenocarcinomas, Squamous cell carcinomas, and large cell carcinomas.
Signs & Symptoms
- Chronic cough
- Shortness of breath
- Bleeding in sputum
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Neck swelling
- Blood clots all over the body
- Generalized weakness
- Right side abdomen pain
- Loss of memory
- Early diagnosis of lung cancer can be lifesaving as approximately 70% of lung cancer patients will survive for at least a year if diagnosed at the earliest stage.
- To find the diagnosis of lung cancer and to know the spread of the tumour, a series of tests will be necessary: medical history, physical exam, blood tests, computed tomography (CT) of the chest and upper abdomen, and biopsy.
- Imaging tests: Chest radiography such as Chest X-ray, CT scan. Chest X-ray is the preferred initial imaging modality because of its availability, low cost, low radiation dose. A CT scan can reveal small lesions in the lungs that may not be detected on an X-ray.
- Biopsy: A sample of abnormal cells may be removed in a procedure called a biopsy. A biopsy is carried out to find out and confirm cancer and to determine the type of cancer.
- Sputum cytology: It is based on spontaneous shedding of cells derived from the lining of lung tissue that reveals the presence of lung cancer cells.
The main goal of treatment is to manage symptoms and keep them under control for as long as possible. The doctor may advise the cancer treatment plans based on several factors, such as overall health of patient, the stage, size and type of cancer, and whether they have spreaded to other parts of body. Often, combinations of therapies are used. Lung cancer treatment includes surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, stereotactic body radiotherapy, targeted drug therapy, and immunotherapy.
Quitting smoking after a diagnosis of early-stage lung cancer may also help to manage people to live longer, a recent study found that quitting smoking could delay a return of cancer or worsening of the disease.
Your healthcare expert will help you understand what to expect after cancer treatment in terms of follow-up, lifestyle changes, and making important health-related decisions.