WHEN DOES LUNG CANCER OCCUR?
Lung Cancer is an abnormality wherein the cells of certain organs in the body begin to multiply at an abnormally high rate. Under normal circumstances, the body maintains a mechanism of checks and balances over the rate of cell growth. The cells divide only when required by the body.
Certain risk factors might lead to disruption of this system of checks and balances that keeps the cell multiplication and proliferation under control. As a result, the lung cells start dividing at an abnormally high rate leading to development of a mass of cells called as Lung Tumor.
Lung tumours can be benign or malignant. Benign tumours usually do not spread to other parts of the body while malignant tumors could be aggressively locally aggressive and could also spread to other parts of the body via bloodstream or lymphatic system.
Which all sites or organs does Lung Cancer spread to?
If Lung Cancers spread, the most common organs of spread are: adrenal glands, liver, brain, and bones. Most common sites of development of cancer in lungs are the cells lining the bronchi, bronchioles, pleura and the blood vessels.
MOST COMMON CAUSES OF LUNG CANCER ARE:
- Passive smoking
- Exposure to Asbestos fibers
- Exposure to Radon gas
- Family history and predisposition
- Certain skin diseases like COPD
- Chronic exposure to air pollution
TYPES OF LUNG CANCER
Lung cancers can be broadly divided into:
- Small cell lung cancers (SCLC)
- Non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC)
LUNG CANCER SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- These patients with small, benign mass in Lung often report with no symptoms at all.
- Aggressive growth of Cancer in Lungs and invasion of surrounding tissue often leads to development of symptoms like: cough, difficulty in breathing, pain in chest, coughing up of blood.
- Invasion of nerves around lungs might lead to symptoms like: pain in shoulder, paralysis of vocal cords, hoarseness of voice.
- Invasion of Esophagus by the Lung Cancer cells leads to difficulty in swallowing.
- Collapse of a major portion of lung or associated airways might lead to pneumonia and infections in the lung.
- Metastasis of Lung Cancer cells to the bones might lead to severe pain in bones.
- Metastasis to brain leads to development of symptom, like: blurry vision, weakness, loss of concentration, fainting, brain stroke, numbness in certain parts of body, headaches and even seizures.
- The tumour cells of Lung cancer often secrete Hormone like substances that may produce certain secondary effects in the body. Two major of them are: Increased levels of Calcium in blood stream due to elevated Parathyroid hormone in blood and increased levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).
- Vague symptoms like: loss of weight, fatigue, depression, mood swings etc. are common too.
LUNG CANCER TREATMENT
The final decision regarding the type of therapy or combination of therapies to be used depends upon the extent of cancer, invasion/ involvement of surrounding structures and whether or not metastasis is present.
- Surgical removal of Cancer tissue
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
- EGFR-targeted therapies
- Radiofrequency ablation
LUNG CANCER PROGNOSIS
When compared to other varieties of cancer, the overall prognosis and survival rates for lung cancer are relatively poor. The average five-year survival rate for most types of Lung cancers is around 17%.
LUNG CANCER PREVENTION
There are some steps that can be taken up in the right direction to prevent Lung cancers. For example:
- Stopping smoking and opting for products like Nicotine gums, Nicotine sprays or Nicotine inhalers.
- Reducing exposure to passive smoking
- Installing air purifiers at home
- Wearing anti-pollution masks when on roads.
This article was intended to provide you with a brief overview of Lung cancer. We hope, it was helpful.