10/25/2016 08:14:00 pm
What is Lung Cancer?
A pair of lungs is a triangular, spongy organ located inside
the chest cavity. Along with nose, mouth, trachea and bronchus, it forms the
respiratory system. Its main responsibility is to supply oxygen to the blood
and exhale the carbon dioxide in return. Lung cancer is an unusual and
uncontrolled growth of lung cells. These cells do not develop into normal
tissues. These abnormal cells divide very fast and develop into tumours, which
start affecting the lung functioning. Lung cancer is the cancer of the respiratory
system. It can affect one or both the lungs.
Lungs cancer represents 6.9% of all new cancer cases
reported in India. Of all cancer-related
deaths, 9.3% of the people die due to lung cancer in India. Men are at a
greater risk than women.
It is important to understand the point where cancer has
Lung Cancer: When Cancer originates from the lung.
Lung Cancer: When Cancer has spread up to the lungs from some other part of the
Lung cancer broadly is divided into two main categories.
cell lung cancer (SCLC): 10-15% of lung cancer patients suffer from small cell
lung cancer. Almost all patients suffering from SCLC are found to be smoke.
These cells divide very rapidly and spread to other body parts.
cell lung cancer (NSCLC): Three subtypes of NSCLC are the most common type of
lung cancer. These are named after the type of cells found in the cancerous
it is the cancer of the outer part of the lungs. Most of the lung cancer cases
are adenocarcinoma, affecting smokers, non-smokers and women alike. It has a
tendency to spread to the areas surrounding the lungs and develop at more than
one place. Bronchioloalveolar carcinoma is a subtype of adenocarcinoma.
cell carcinomas: This type of lung cancer grows within the lungs, affects the
airways and has a tendency to form a cavity.
cell carcinomas: Although, this type of lung cancer is not seen very commonly,
but it spreads very quickly.
Some other types of lung cancer are bronchial carcinoids,
cancer of the tissues supporting lung, and undifferentiated non-small cell lung
Causes and risk factors
Smoking cigarettes or beedis (an Indian cigarette) is the
leading cause of lung cancer. Apart from
smoking, there are other factors that put you at a high risk of getting lung
Let us discuss these causes and risk factors.
Smoking cigarettes or beedis (Indian cigarettes) is a major cause of lung
cancer. 85% of the lung cancer is because of smoking. A person who starts
smoking at a young age or someone who has been smoking for several years are
very likely to suffer from lung cancer. Passive smokers or second smokers are
those people who are exposed to the tobacco smoke. Even passive smokers are at
a risk of lung cancer. This also applies to the family members of an active
to certain gases and chemicals: Some of the gases and chemicals are found to be
carcinogenic in nature. Carcinogenic means that these chemicals and gases can
cause cancer when a person is exposed to them for a long duration.
pollution: Air pollution is a major concern for lung cancer. Inhaling polluted
air may lead to lung cancer.
lung disease: Certain lung diseases can damage the lungs, which may later
develop into a type of lung cancer.
History: Some people may suffer from lung cancer if they have a family history
of lung cancer.
Cancer and treatment: If you have been diagnosed and treated for other cancer,
there is a risk that you might get lung cancer. Few cancer treatments increase
your chance of being affected by lung cancer. Similarly, if you have
smoking-related cancers such as lip, mouth, head and neck, oesophageal or
cervical cancer, you are at a greater risk of developing lung cancer.
• AIDS, HIV
infection and autoimmune disorders: Diseases which lowers your immunity such as
AIDS, HIV and other autoimmune disorders are 2 to 3 times more likely to affect
Symptoms and signs
Usually, there are no marked symptoms of lung cancer in its
early stage. One may start experiencing difficulty, only after the disease has
advanced to a certain level.
Some of the symptoms of lung cancer are:
• Blood in
• Neck and
In the event, cancer has spread to other body parts; one
• Loss of
memory loss, or hampered brain functions.
The symptoms can be attributed to other medical conditions
as well, therefore, it’s necessary to be aware of the symptoms and consult a
doctor at the earliest.
Your doctor will do tests of mucus, blood and recommend
For a detailed investigation, you may be asked to undergo:
techniques: CT scans, MRI scans, and PET scan can be done to ascertain your
It allows a closer and detailed view of the lungs. By inserting a thin tube
with a camera at the end, the doctor can identify the exact place and can take
a sample of the tissues as well.
ultrasound: It’s an ultrasound done along with bronchoscopy. It determines the
size of the cancerous tissues. It also helps to identify the places the tumour
• Biopsy: A
sample of the tissue is taken out to do a detailed examination. The sample can
be taken through the skin, keyhole surgery of the lung or neck lymph node
surgery. The samples are further studied under a microscope to diagnose cancer.
Treatment and prevention
Cancer treatment is based on the present medical condition
of the individual. Your doctor will advise for a combination of available
treatment options. It’s important to understand the stages of the lung cancer,
to get an understanding of the treatment options.
Stages of non-small cell lung cancer
Cancer is confined to the lungs.
• Stage II:
Cancer has spread to the surrounding lymph nodes of the infected lung.
• Stage III
a: Cancer has spread beyond the lymph node affecting the whole side of the
• Stage III
b: Cancer has also spread to the opposite side of the infected lung.
• Stage IV:
When the lung cancer has infected other organs.
Stages of the Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC)
SCLC has two stages:
stage: when cancer has affected one side, one part of the lung and its lymph
stage: when cancer spreads to the other lung and body organs.
Depending upon the cancer stage, the doctor may opt for
surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or targeted drug treatment. Usually, a
lung cancer patient is given a combination of the above available treatment to ensure
that the cancerous cells are destroyed completely and do not come back in the
Lung cancer although being very common is preventable.
Measures to protect against lung cancer include:
Smoking: it’s never too late to quit smoking. Safeguard yourself and your
family from lung cancer.
healthy and Exercise: Eating healthy and exercising will boost up your immunity
level, giving you a shield against risk factors of lung cancer.
passive smoking: avoid inhaling the tobacco smoke of someone smoking.
pollution: Avoid exposing yourself to the polluted air.
chemicals at work: take precautions while working with chemicals and toxic