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Lung Cancer

There are 2 main types of lung cancer and both of them are treated very differently. They are:

  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
    Non-small cell lung cancer is further divided into subtypes, namely:
  1. Adenocarcinoma – It starts in cells that normally secrete substances like mucus. It is also the most common type of lung cancer seen in people who do not smoke. It is more common in women than men and is more likely to occur in younger people
  2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma – As the name suggests, it starts in squamous cells which are flat cells that line the inside of the airways in the lungs.
  3. Large Cell Carcinoma – this can appear in any part of the lung and tends to grow and spread rapidly which is why it is harder to treat.
  • Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)
    This type of lung cancer has the tendency to grow and spread faster than non-small cell lung cancer. This type of cancer responds well to chemotherapy and radiotherapy because it grows quickly.

Causes of Lung Cancer

  • Smoking – The most common cause of lung cancer is smoking. Smoking causes cancer as it damages the line of the lungs. When you inhale the smoke that is full of carcinogens the lung tissues begin to change
  • Radon exposure – Radon is a naturally existing radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer if one is exposed to it for a prolonged period of time
  • Genetic Mutation – Certain genetic mutations can make people more likely to develop lung cancer

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

  • Shortness of breath
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes (middle of the chest)
  • Cough that doesn’t go away
  • Chest pain
  • Frequent infections like pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Coughing of blood
  • Fatigue

Prevention of Lung cancer

  • Avoid smoking
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Exercise regularly
  • Protect yourself against carcinogens at work

Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

  • Imaging tests – An X-Ray image of the lungs may reveal abnormal mass or nodules whereas a CT scan can reveal small lesions in the lungs that may not be detected on the X-Ray
  • Biopsy – In this procedure, a sample of abnormal cells is removed to study them further
  • Spirometry – It is a lung function test that checks how well the lungs are working
  • Thoracoscopy – It uses a tube with a light and camera to take a tissue sample from the lungs

Treatment of Lung Cancer

  • Surgery – The surgeon aims at removing the lung cancer and a margin of healthy tissue around it. In some extreme cases, the surgeon might recommend the removal of an entire lung. Surgery is usually considered an option when the cancer is confined to the lungs and has not spread. The doctors might recommend chemotherapy or radiation therapy before the surgery in order to shrink the tumors
  • Radiation Therapy – Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation like X-rays and protons for killing the cancer cells or halting their growth. It is often used in combination with chemotherapy treatments. If surgery is not possible for a certain case, radiation therapy in combination with chemotherapy might be the primary treatment
  • Chemotherapy – This treatment uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. It does this either by killing the cancer cells or by preventing their further division. It can be done either intravenously or orally. The drugs enter the bloodstream and reach the cancer cells across the body. Sometimes, it is also used after surgery to kill the remnant cancer cells
  • Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy – It is an intense radiation treatment that aims at many beams of high-energy radiation from different angles at cancer. It is usually considered for people with small lung cancers who can’t undergo surgery and for cancer that has spread to other parts of the body