Lung Cancer

What Is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer, a malignant disease, originates in the lungs and may metastasize to the lymph nodes or other organs like the brain. Conversely, cancers from other organs can also spread to the lungs, resulting in metastases.

These lung cancer types are generally categorized into two groups: small cell and non-small cell. The non-small cell category comprises adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Each type exhibits distinct growth patterns and requires specific treatment. Non-small cell lung cancer is more prevalent compared to small cell lung cancer. 

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What Are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer symptoms can vary among individuals, with some experiencing lung-related symptoms, while others may have symptoms related to the spread of cancer to other body parts. In some cases, general feelings of unwellness may be present. It’s important to note that symptoms often become apparent in advanced stages of lung cancer. Stay informed about common lung cancer symptoms for early detection and prevention.

Lung cancer symptoms may include:

Types of lung cancer

Non cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the predominant form, accounting for approximately 85% of cases. This variant arises from the epithelial cells lining the lung, exhibiting a comparatively indolent growth rate and often manifesting minimal symptoms until reaching an advanced stage.

Small cell lung cancer makes up approximately 15% of all lung cancers. It commonly originates in the bronchi, the air-carrying tubes from the windpipe to the lungs. Diagnosis usually occurs in individuals with a smoking history. This type of cancer exhibits faster growth and metastasis compared to non-small cell lung cancer. Learn more about small cell lung cancer causes, symptoms, and treatments.

Primary Causes of Lung Cancer

Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer. Up to 90 per cent of cases of the disease are caused by smoking, and one in 10 smokers will develop lung cancer. The longer a person has been smoking and the more packs of cigarettes smoked per day, the greater the risk. However, it is not known why one smoker develops lung cancer while another does not.

Research has also demonstrated the link between passive smoking and lung cancer.

Workers exposed to industrial substances such as asbestos, nickel, chromium compounds, arsenic, polycyclic hydrocarbons and chloromethyl, have a significantly high risk of developing lung cancer.

Treatment for Lung Cancer

There are various treatment options available (with different aims), which include: surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and laser treatment.

Those non-small cell lung cancers which are amenable to surgery are those where the cancer is confined to a lump in the lung or to the draining lymph nodes immediately next to the lump, but where the lymph nodes in the center of the chest are involved, it is usually considered not suitable for surgery alone. Investigations include chest X-rays and CT scans. Surgery may involve removal of the lung or part of the lung. For those cancers that spread to the center of the chest, a combined treatment approach may involve chemotherapy with radiotherapy and surgery. Patients who present with widespread disease or later develop widespread non-small cell lung cancer may undergo chemotherapy which improves the chances of survival

Radiotherapy is used to alleviate the symptoms from the primary cancer or other sites of disease, such as the bone.

Small cell is primarily treated with chemotherapy. The best outcome is if the disease is confined to the chest, but chemotherapy is still used when the disease is widespread at presentation. Radiotherapy may be used to consolidate the local chest area or to prevent metastases occurring in the brain. Radiotherapy can also be used for palliation of painful localized areas, such as in the bone.