Cancer that starts at the lungs is called lung cancer. Abnormal growth of cells causes cancer. Lung cancer reduces the patient’s ability to breathe and it can also spread to other parts of the body.
Types of lung cancer (1)
Small cell lung cancer
This type of lung cancer comprises about 10% to 15% of lung cancer. This type rapidly grows and it is the most aggressive type as compare to other types. Small cell lung cancer is strongly related to smoking cigarettes. Small cell lung cancer rapidly grows and spread to other parts of the body and it is mostly diagnosed when it has extensively spread to other organs.
Non-small cell lung cancer:
It is the most common type of lung cancer. About 85% of cases are of non-small cell lung cancer. This type is further classified into three types depending on the type of cancer.
It is the most common type of NSCLS in the United States. This type comprises up to 40% of cases of lung cancer. Adenocarcinomas are mostly associated with smokers, but this type can be found in non-smokers as well especially females. Adenocarcinomas can spread beyond the lymph nodes. When an X-ray is done it can be seen as pneumonia. The frequency of this type is increasing and it is more common in women. Better prognosis can be achieved with this type of cancer as compared to other types.
- Squamous cell carcinoma:
This type of cancer is more common than adenocarcinomas. 25% to 30% of lung cancers are of this type. It arises in the central chest area within the bronchi more frequently. Squamous cell carcinomas spread to the lymph nodes and form a cavity while growing.
- Large cell carcinoma:
Large cell carcinomas are referred to as undifferentiated carcinomas. It is the least common type of non-small cell lung cancer. 10% to 15% cases of lung cancer are of this type. Large cell carcinoma has a great tendency to spread to distinct sites and lymph nodes.
Other types of lung cancer
These types are less common than non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancers and comprise about 5% to 10% of cases of lung cancer.
- Bronchial carcinoids:
It comprises about 5% of cases of lung cancer. It is not related to smoking and is found in people under the age of forty. They grow very generally and spread slowly as compare to other types so; they can be detected at an early age and removed by surgery.
- Cancers of supporting lung tissues:
Such type of cancers occurs in smooth muscles, blood vessels or in the cells that are involved in the immune response. But this type is very rare.
Causes of lung cancer
Lung cancer always not happens to smokers. But non-smoker can also develop lung cancer. Former smokers are diagnosed with lung cancer. It is rare to found small cell lung cancer in people who never smoke, but still, it can happen. Non-smokers can develop lung cancer due to other factors like exposure to secondhand smoke, radon, and air pollutants. Some people can develop lung cancer in the workplace when they get exposed to diesel, asbestos, or any other chemical out there. Some people are diagnosed with lung cancer with unknown risk factors. Some people are diagnosed with lung cancer with any of these risk factors but many people have lung cancer but the factor is still unknown.
Smokers have different kinds of lung cancer than non-smokers. People who don’t smoke may have certain gene changes and cancer is different than tumors found in smokers. These gene changes are used as guidance to treatment in some cases.
Risk factors associated with lung cancer.
Several risk factors are associated with lung cancer. Some of them can be controlled but some of them are out of control. Quit smoking is a risk factor that can be easily controlled. Having a family history of the lung cannot be controlled. Some risk factors of lung cancer are:
- Exposure to second-hand smoke
- Previous radiation therapy
- Exposure to radon gas
- History of lung cancer in the family
Sign and Symptoms
It is very difficult to found signs and symptoms of lung cancer in its early stage. Lung cancer shows signs and symptoms in its advanced stage. Some sign and symptoms of lung cancer are:
- Cough that won’t go away
- Cough with the blood but in a small amount
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in chest
- Loss of weight without trying
- Pain in bone
- Weakness and fatigue
- Loss of appetite
When cancer spreads, according to the location of canceradditional sign and symptoms of cancer are:
Lymph nodes: develops lumps in collarbone or neck
Bones: pain in bone specifically in ribs, back, and hip
Brain or spine: dizziness, headache, and balance problems
Liver: jaundice that is yellowing of eyes and skin.
Always seek a good second opinion before starting the treatment. Doctors are there to help you out. When a person is diagnosed with lung cancer, a team of doctors that will manage the treatment is:
- A surgeon who is a specialist in lung and chest
- A lung specialist also called the pulmonologist
- A medical oncologist
- A radiation oncologist
Treatment for non-small cell lung cancer varies from person to person depending upon the type and condition.
Stage 1 NSCLC: a small portion of the lung is removed through surgery. Chemotherapy is recommended to avoid recurrences of cancer.
Stage 2 NSCLC: surgery is recommended to remove a cancerous portion of the whole lung. Chemotherapy is recommended usually.
Stage 3 NSCLC: this stage of treatment requires a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and treatment by radiation.
Stage 4 NSCLC: cancer at this stage is very hard to cure. Treatment given at this stage is by surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.