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LUNG CANCER

September 10 2019 at 08:04 AM by Admin


The abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the lung tissues can cause lung cancer which is also known as bronchogenic carcinomas. The abnormal cell division may begin primarily in the air passage of the lungs. In the advanced stage, it may affect the other part of the lungs and body organs as well. Also, Lung Cancer generally has a survival rate of 16% at 5 years.

Individuals aged 65 years and above are more prone to develop lung cancer than the younger population. Lung cancer generally strikes the elderly population. There were only a few cases in the year 1930s but thereafter the world witnessed a steady rise in the number of cases of lung cancer as the practice of cigarette smoking increased.

Statistics

Both globally and nationwide, lung cancer continues to threaten the lives of both men and women. It is considered to be the leading cause of death amongst both men and women across the globe. According to WHO, in India, Delhi’s air quality has already been rated as one of the most hazardous in the world. This is due to increasing industries, automobiles and burning of crop stubble releasing a lot of gasses and dust particles. Indian statistics on lung cancer reveals that as many as 90,000 men and 79,000 women are affected each year.

Types of lung cancer

Lung cancers are of 2 types:

  1. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) – About 20% of the cases are of this type. This type of lung cancer grows rapidly and is found only in smokers. It is generally diagnosed very late and by that time cancer cells start spreading to other parts of the body.
  2. Non – small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – This accounts for 80% of the cancers. These are further classified into 3 categories, namely:
  1. Adenocarcinomas – This is the most common type and accounts for 30 – 40% of NSCLC.
  2. Squamous cell carcinomas – This type of NSCLC comprises about 30% of lung cancer.
  3. Large cell carcinomas – They are also known as undifferentiated carcinomas comprises of only 10 – 15% cases of lung cancer.

Causes

Smokers are a greater risk of lung cancer than non-smokers. Smoking alone accounts for about 80 – 90% of lung cancers. Whereas the rest 10 – 15% cases of lung cancer occur due to genetic factors, air pollution and exposure to radon gas and asbestos. If you start smoking at an early age and then with time you also increase the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day, you are actually increasing your chances of being affected with lung cancer. This can be well understood with an example: an individual who smoked 2 packs of cigarettes for a period of 10 years is known to have a 20 pack-year smoking history.

However, there are some eye-opening facts that narrate a different story. Recent studies have shown that lung cancer is no longer just “smoker’s disease”. The number of smokers has decreased in the past decade, but lung cancer occurring to non-smokers has remained steady, which means that there are some other factors to blame too. These factors have been identified as exposure to asbestos and air pollution. About 8% of lung cancer is caused by inherited factors.

Symptoms

A certain percentage of individuals would usually not experience any symptoms of lung cancer. In cases, when they do the symptoms would include:

  • A persistent cough that does not go away with medications.
  • Coughing up blood
  • Phlegm is rusty coloured or contains blood
  • Unusual Weight loss
  • Undue fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Repeated infections of the respiratory tract such as pneumonia and bronchitis
  • Hoarseness in voice
  • Loss of appetite
  • Persistent chest pain
  • Inflammation of neck and face

Who Should Be Screened?

Persons having a history of heavy smoking

Persons who were smokers but quit smoking

Persons exposed to heavy pollution.

Persons who had lung cancer in relatives.

Diagnosis

An x-ray of the chest should be enough for preliminary diagnosis of tumor in the lungs. Once the x-ray is done, the following diagnostic procedures are conducted for confirming lung cancer.

  1. Spiral or Helical CT scan is yet another procedure wherein the patient is exposed to low doses of radiation to get a clear view of the chest area. This method provides clearer view when compared to x-ray.
  2. CT and MRI scan which provides more detailed information about the tumour.

 

  1. Bronchoscopy that will enable the doctors to examine the air and lungs and take tissue samples for biopsy. Sputum samples are also examined for cancerous cells.
  2. PET – CT scan can also be done for studying that part of the body where the cells are abnormally active.
  3. Percutaneous lung biopsy is also required, wherein the doctors put a needle through the chest area to reach out to the tumour for collecting tissue sample for examination in pathology.

Treatment

Treatment of lung cancer will depend on - the stage and type of cancer, location of the tumour within the lungs and overall general health of the individual. The following treatment options are considered.

  1. Surgery – This is the most preferred mode for treating small cell tumours that are confined to the lung areas. There are 3 types of surgical procedures used for treating lung cancer. These are

 

  1. Segmentectomy or wedge resection is a method that involves the removal of the small affected part of the lung.
  2. Lobectomy is a method wherein the entire affected area is removed.
  3. Pneumonectomy wherein the entire lung is removed.

 

  1. Chemotherapy – This treatment is suggested in an advanced stage of the disease. It involves the use of a drug that targets the cancer cells and kills them. In many cases, chemotherapy is used prior to surgery for killing the cancer cells.
  2. Radiotherapy – This is opted when surgery cannot be used due to metastasis of the tumour. This method involves exposing the individual to high energy radiation that targets the tumour cells and kills them.

The doctors may combine one or two methods for better efficacy and to lessen the effect of the malignant neoplasms. With the new advancements in medical science, it has really been possible to have significant control in the treatment of lung cancers by proper consultation.

A recent report published in The Telegraph states that a new study has been designed that aims at studying the ways the tumour genes mutate. This would enable doctors to develop medications that would inhibit gene mutation from taking place.

 


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