Lung Cancer - Curastex Medihealth

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer begins in the lung. Lungs are two spongy organs beneath the chest that take in oxygen when you breathe in and release carbon dioxide when you exhale. Worldwide, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among all the other types of cancer. People who have smoked are at high risk of lung cancer, although lung cancer can also occur in non-smokers. The risk of lung cancer increases with time and the number of cigarettes you smoke. If you quit smoking even after you have smoked for several years, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing lung cancer.

Lung cancer begins in the lung. Lungs are two spongy organs beneath the chest that take in oxygen when you breathe in and release carbon dioxide when you exhale. Worldwide, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among all the other types of cancer. People who have smoked are at high risk of lung cancer, although lung cancer can also occur in non-smokers. The risk of lung cancer increases with time and the number of cigarettes you smoke. If you quit smoking even after you have smoked for several years, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing lung cancer.

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What is Lung Cancer?

When cells grow uncontrollably to form a tumor, it is called cancer. When it starts in the cells of the lungs, it is called lung cancer or lung cancer. 

One of the leading causes of death in lung cancer is smoking.

However, nowadays lung cancer is being seen even in people who have never smoked.

There have been no early specific symptoms that appear in lung cancer.

However, the most common symptom of lung cancer is a cough, which gradually becomes severe and does not get better.

Lung cancer treatment options include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. The doctor decides on the right treatment based on the type, stage and other factors of lung cancer.

 

Lung Cancer in India

Lung cancer is now very common worldwide and is a major cause of cancer deaths. Lung cancer is responsible for 13 percent of all new cancer cases and 19 percent of cancer-related deaths. According to the GLOBOCAN 2012 report, the estimated incidence of lung cancer in India was 70,275 across all ages and both sexes. In terms of incidence rate, lung cancer was ranked fourth among various types of cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) after breast cancer, cervical cancer and oral cancer. Lung cancer ranks second among men in terms of cancer incidence, while it ranks sixth among women.

Until a decade ago, less than 10% of all lung cancer patients did not smoke. This percentage has now gone up to around 20%, which is quite high. The rising level of pollution could be one of the reasons for this.

 

What is the survival rate for lung cancer in India?

This cancer slowly kills a person, hence it is called ‘silent killer’. The main reason for this is smoking. Diagnosing the disease at an early stage can increase a person’s chances of survival. Only 15% of lung cancers are diagnosed at an early stage, with a 5-year survival rate of about 54%. About 70% of lung cancer patients can survive for at least a year after an early-stage diagnosis. The five-year survival rate is reduced to only 4 percent when the tumor has spread to other organs, i.e. in high stage/stage four.

 

Symptoms of Lung Cancer 

Lung Cancer Symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer 

There are usually no specific signs and symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer. Symptoms of lung cancer usually occur as the disease progresses.

 

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer 

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer are :

  • Cough, which is not getting better, 
  • Coughing up blood, even slight breathlessness,
  • Chest pain, 
  • Hoarseness, 
  • Unexplained 
  • Weight loss, 
  • Bone pain 
  • Headache

 

Causes of Lung Cancer 

How / Why does lung cancer occur?

Smoking is the major cause of lung cancer.

Some other harmful substances can also cause lung cancer like asbestos, arsenic etc. Sometimes there is no clear cause of lung cancer.

 

Smoking

With the first puff of a cigarette/bidi, it starts damaging your lung tissue. The lungs can repair this damage, but continued exposure to smoke makes it difficult or impossible for the lungs to repair themselves. Once the cells are damaged, they start behaving abnormally, which increases the chances of getting lung cancer. The cause of small cell lung cancer is almost always heavy smoking. When you stop smoking, your risk of developing lung cancer decreases over time.

Other Harmful Substances Breathing in other dangerous substances, especially over a long period of time, may also cause lung cancer. Mesothelioma, one of the types of lung cancer, mainly caused due to the exposure to asbestos.

Other substances that can cause lung cancer:

  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Nickel some petroleum products
  • Uranium

 

Prevention of Lung Cancer

How to prevent lung cancer?

There’s no sure way to prevent lung cancer, but you can lower your risk if you:

Don’t start smoking – If you’ve never smoked, don’t start. Talk to your children about never smoking so that they understand how to avoid this leading cause of lung cancer.

  • Quit Smoking – Quit smoking, today.
  • Quitting smoking lowers your risk of lung cancer, even if you have been smoking for years.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke – If you live or work with a smoker, urge him to quit and stay away from him while he is smoking. Avoid carcinogenic substances at work.
  • Avoid exposure to toxic chemicals at work.
  • Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables – Choose a healthy diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Choose food sources of vitamins and nutrients. Avoid taking large doses of vitamins in supplement form, as they can be harmful. 
  • Stay fit – If you don’t exercise regularly, start slowly. But try to exercise regularly and stay fit.

 

Lung Cancer Screening And Diagnosis 

How is lung cancer diagnosed?

Physicians use symptoms as well as several other procedures to diagnose lung cancer. Common imaging techniques include chest X-ray, bronchoscopy, CT scan, MRI scan and PET scan.

The above diagnostic techniques provide important information, but removing cancer cells and examining them under a microscope is the only accurate way to detect lung cancer. This procedure is called a biopsy.

If a biopsy confirms lung cancer, the doctor will determine whether it is non-small cell lung cancer or small cell lung cancer.

The doctor will examine the patient’s entire body, examine the chest and analyze the blood coming out with sputum. All these tests help to find out where the tumor is and what additional organs have been affected by it.

After the tests, the doctor will determine the stage of lung cancer based on the extent to which the cancer has spread in the body. The stage determines which treatment options will be used.

 

Lung Cancer Treatment

Doctors plan lung cancer treatment based on several factors, such as your overall health, the type of lung cancer you have, the stage, and your preferences. More than one option is commonly used, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted drug therapy.

Treatment of non-small cell lung cancer

Treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) depends on the health of the patient and varies from patient to patient. 

Stage 1 NSCLC: The patient may recover with surgery to remove a portion of the lung. Chemotherapy may also be given, especially if the patient is at risk of developing cancer again.

Stage 2 NSCLC: Surgery may be needed to remove part or all of a lung. Chemotherapy is usually given.

Stage 3 NSCLC: May require a combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy.

Stage 4 NSCLC : It is particularly difficult to treat and treatment options may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.

Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment

Options for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) also include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. In most cases, the cancer has grown so far that surgery is no longer an option.

Some patients whose lung cancer is very advanced choose not to take any treatment. For such patients, instead of curing the cancer, doctors focus on treating the symptoms of the cancer so that the quality of life of the patient can be improved somewhat.

 

Lung Cancer Complications

Complications of Lung Cancer Many problems can arise from lung cancer, such as –

  • Shortness of breath – People with lung cancer may experience shortness of breath if the cancer blocks the main airway. Lung cancer can cause fluid to build up around the lungs, making it difficult for the lungs to expand completely when inhaled.
  • Coughing up blood – Lung cancer can cause bleeding in the airways, which can cause blood to come up in your cough (hemoptysis). Sometimes the bleeding can be severe. Treatments are available to control bleeding.
  • Pain – This cancer in the advanced stage can cause pain by spreading to the inner parts of the lung or any other part of the body such as bone. If you have pain, tell your doctor. Initially the pain may be mild and intermittent, but gradually become constant. Medicines, radiation therapy, and other treatments may be of benefit to you.
  • Fluid accumulation in the chest – Due to lung cancer, fluid accumulates in the chest cavity in the space around the affected lung. Due to this fluid collecting in the chest, the patient may have difficulty in breathing. Treatments are available for this, in which the fluid that has accumulated in your chest is removed and the risk of this problem coming back is also reduced.
  • Cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (metastasis) – Lung cancer often spreads to other parts of the body, such as the brain and bones. Cancer that has spread to other parts of the body causes pain, nausea, headache, or other symptoms. These symptoms depend on which organ is affected by the cancer. Once lung cancer has spread to other organs, it usually cannot be treated. The treatments done for this help reduce the symptoms of the disease and keep the patient alive for a long time.

 

Types of Lung Cancer

How many types of Lung Cancer are there?

There are two main types of lung cancer. Lung cancer cells appear large or small when viewed under a microscope. It is on this basis that the stage of lung cancer is named.

  • Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) – Small cell lung cancer almost always occurs in high smokers.
  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – Non-small cell lung cancer is an umbrella term for several types of lung cancer. This type of Non-small cell lung cancers can be squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.

NSCLC is the most common form of lung cancer – 80-85% of lung cancer cases are of NSCLC.

The treatment for both types of lung cancer is slightly different. Therefore, before starting the treatment, the doctor will check what type of lung cancer the patient has.

 

Stages of Lung Cancer

What are the stages of Lung Cancer?

The most common method of detecting the stage of cancer is called the TNM System. 

  • T(1-4) indicates the size and direct expansion of the primary tumor. 
  • N (0-3) indicates how far the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. 
  • M (0-1) indicates whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. 

For example, a small tumor that has not spread to lymph nodes and distant organs may be characterized as T1N0M0.

 

Stages of non-small cell lung cancer

TNM description for non-small cell lung cancer helps in simple classification of stages. These steps are labeled 1 through 4. 

Small numbers indicate an early stage, where the cancer is less spread.

Stage 1 is when the tumor is only found in one lung and not in the lymph nodes.

Stage 2 occurs when the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes around the infected lung.

Stage 3 is divided into two parts –

  • Stage 3A occurs when cancer has spread to the lymph nodes around the windpipe, chest wall, and diaphragm, located on the side of the infected lung.
  • Stage 3B is when the cancer has spread to other lymph nodes in the lung or neck.

Stage 4 is when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body and lungs.

Stages of Small Cell Lung Cancer There are two stages of small cell lung cancer – limited and extensive.

In a limited Level, the tumor is present in the lymph nodes present in and around one lung.

On an extensive Level, the tumor infects other parts of the body along with other lungs.

 

What to avoid during Lung Cancer ?

Avoid these things –

  1. Smoking – The risk of lung cancer increases with the number of cigarettes being smoked each day and the number of years they have smoked. So to reduce the chances of occurrence of lung cancer simply to avoid smoking. 
  2. Secondhand smoke – Even if you do not smoke, you still have an increased risk of lung cancer. The reason for this is secondhand smoke’ i.e. the smoke of another person’s smoke goes inside you.
  3. Alcohol – Alcohol also increases the risk of cancer.

 

What to eat during Lung Cancer ?

Lung cancer patients should include these nutrients in their diet –

  • Foods Rich in Vitamin C – This vitamin is found in many fruits and vegetables.
  • Foods rich in carotenoids – It is found in bright green, yellow, red and orange colored vegetables.
  • Selenium-rich foods – These include Brazil nuts, sunflower and sesame seeds, fish and seafood, eggs, meat and whole grains.
  • Curcumin – This is a variant of the Indian spice turmeric and is mostly used in curries.
  • Foods containing soy – These include tofu, tempeh, tamari (soy sauce) and soy milk.
  • Omega 3 – This includes fish found in cold water, such as – tuna, salmon, sardines, herring and their oils; Contains chia and flax seeds and their oils extracted by the cold press process.
  • Vitamin D3 – fortified foods (foods to which nutrients are added), sunlight or supplements thereof.
  • Green tea – Green tea contains anti-carcinogenic substances called polyphenols, so it should be consumed regularly twice a day.

(Disclaimer: Information provided in this piece of article is purely for educational purposes only. All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s data to make an accurate diagnosis.) 


References

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  14.  National Health Service. UK; Treatment – Lung cancer.
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  16.  American Cancer Society  Atlanta, Georgia, U.S; Treating Lung Carcinoid Tumors. 
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