Lung cancer is one of the deadliest types of cancer. Occurring in more than 200,000 people per year in the states and millions more worldwide, this is a highly fatal disease causing the most deaths among cancer patients.
To better understand this disease, read this post till the end. Here, I have explained the various stages, types, causes, symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments for this disease that you should know of.
Types Of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. Its two main types are:
1. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
The most prevalent form of lung cancer is NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer). More than 80% of instances of lung cancer are caused by it. Squamous cell cancer and adenocarcinoma are common varieties. Two less frequent types of NSCLC include sarcomatoid carcinoma and adenosquamous carcinoma.
2. Small Cell Lung Cancer
Compared to NSCLC, SCLC (small cell lung cancer) spreads quickly and is more challenging to cure. A very modest lung tumor that has already migrated to other regions of your body is how it is frequently discovered. Small cell carcinoma, also known as oat cell carcinoma, and mixed small cell carcinoma are two particular subtypes of SCLC.
Lung Cancer Stages
The four main stages of the five-year developmental period of lung cancer are:
- Stage 1: In this stage, the tumor has started to develop in the topmost inner lining of your lung.
- Stage 2: This is the second phase, where the tumor has grown in size and started to affect nearby lymph nodes or the other lung.
- Stage 3: In this stage, the tumors might multiply, forming several tumors on both your lungs combined. Plus, your nearby lymph nodes are severely affected as well.
- Stage 4: The final stage of lung cancer, where the tumor metastasis also spreads to other organs.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lung Cancer?
The most common lung cancer symptoms are:
- A constant cough that gets worse over time.
- Dyspnea – a feeling of breathlessness
- Throbbing chest pain
- Hemoptysis – bloody coughs
- Hoarse voice
- Constant fatigue
- Sudden weight loss
- Appetite loss
- Pain in the neck, throat, shoulders, and chest
- Superior vena cava syndrome – swelling of the upper torso
What Causes Lung Cancer?
The two leading causes of lung cancer are:
1. Smoking Tobacco
Cigarette smoke is the number one cause of lung cancer globally. When it comes to the millions of lung cancer patients diagnosed each year, 80% of them are cigarette smokers. The primary cause for cigarette smoke being so lethal is its many carcinogens and tar, leading to mutations and tumors over long-term exposure.
In addition, people who are not smokers but get exposed to secondhand smoke (passive smoke) can also develop cancer. Even if you are not a smoker, you may suffer from signs of lung cancer and develop breast cancer.
2. Air Pollution
The pollutants from burning fuels that are used in automobiles and various heavy industries also contain many carcinogens. Besides carcinogens, they have fine dust particles and residues that can cause respiratory problems and cancer due to long-term exposure.
How To Prevent Lung Cancer?
“Prevention is better than the cure” – this is what doctors will say to you. Therefore, you must also keep in mind that it’s easy to prevent cancer in your lungs. To do so, you only need to keep these precautions in mind (and take them too):
1. Quit Smoking
Since smoking is one of the leading causes of cancer, it goes without saying that cigarettes are harmful. Therefore, if you have never started smoking, never try doing so. Also, if you are a smoker, try to quit as soon as possible. You can take the help of nicotine gums and patches to smoothen the cessation process. Quitting smoking also reduces the chances of developing lymphoma.
2. Wear A Face Mask While Outdoors
Since the Covid pandemic hit in 2020, masks have become essential to our public appearances. However, they serve lots of other purposes as well. It reduces the spread of the Coronavirus and protects us from inhaling dust and other pollutants. Therefore, try to wear a face mask whenever you are outdoors, especially in crowded public places and dusty roads.
3. Maintain A Healthy Diet And Lifestyle
It’s said that we all become what we eat. Therefore, maintaining a healthy diet will help you lead a healthier life. Since your lungs are self-repairing organs, eating healthy and staying fit through exercises will improve your auto-repair process. Maintaining a healthy diet also prevents bladder cancer and colorectal cancer.
How To Diagnose Lung Cancer?
When trying to understand “how I knew I had lung cancer,” it’s best to get yourself diagnosed. This can be done by:
1. Blood Tests
Blood tests can help your doctor examine your organs to see their functioning. However, keep in mind that they cannot detect cancer on their own. You can also use this to test kidney cancer.
Images from CT scans and chest X-rays might show your doctor abnormalities in your lungs. To assess a troubling CT scan finding or to ascertain if cancer has spread following a cancer diagnosis, PET/CT scans are frequently performed.
Your doctor may do many procedures to examine what’s happening inside your chest closely. Your doctor may perform a biopsy to get tissue and fluid samples that can be examined under a microscope to identify the kind of cancer and check for cancer cells.
4. Molecular Tests
Your healthcare professional may examine a tissue sample taken during a biopsy for gene variations (mutations) that certain medications can use to treat.
Best Lung Cancer Treatment Procedures?
The best treatment procedures for curing lung cancer and stopping the spread of the tumor early on are:
Surgery may be an option for NSCLC and SCLC contained in a single tumor. Your surgeon may remove cancer and some nearby healthy tissue to ensure they don’t leave any cancerous cells behind. To ensure cancer doesn’t return, physicians may need to remove a part of your lung (resection).
2. Radiofrequency Ablation
Radiofrequency ablation is occasionally used to treat NSCLC tumors closer to the borders of your lungs (RFA). High-energy radio waves are used in RFA to heat and kill cancer cells.
High-intensity beams are used in radiation to eliminate cancer cells. It can be utilized both independently and to boost surgical effectiveness. Moreover, palliative care and tumor reduction are two other uses for radiation.
Chemotherapy used to inhibit cancer cell growth frequently consists of several different drugs. It may be used before, following, or in conjunction with other medications, such as immunotherapy. Usually, lung cancer patients receive their chemotherapy through an IV.
Usually, our bodies identify damaged or dangerous cells and eliminate them. Cancer has ways of hiding from the immune system to avoid being destroyed. Therefore, certain drugs are used to boost our immunity system and help fight the spread of cancerous cells.
5. Targeted Drug Therapy
Some alterations (mutations) in the lung cancer cells of some NSCLC patients promote the growth of the disease. To try to stop or kill cancer cells, certain medications target these alterations. A different class of medicines known as angiogenesis inhibitors can prevent the tumor from growing new blood vessels that the cancer cells require to spread.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Since lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, people have various questions regarding it. Here are my answers to their queries:
Ans. Regarding lung cancer survival rate, 40% of all patients survive the first year. However, only 15% survive cancer for five years or more, while only 10% survive this disease for ten years or more.
Ans. The spread of cancer depends on various factors, including your age and the strength of your immunity system. However, lung cancer typically spreads fast.
Ans. While this has not been researched a lot, it’s said that vaping could cause lung cancer. This is because inhaled vape can cause pneumonia and bronchitis, which can cause the development of tumors.
Lung cancer causes a lot of deaths every year. Some of its primary symptoms are blood while coughing, chest pains, fatigue, hoarse throat, and breathlessness. Smoking is one of the primary causes of lung cancer. Therefore, stop smoking if you don’t want to undergo surgery and chemotherapy.