Description of Lung cancer
The uncontrolled growth of t-cells in lung tissues is termed as lung cancer. It is a tumor that spreads rapidly to other regions such as lymph nodes, brain, adrenal glands, liver, and bones.
Causes and Risk Factors
The average age at which lung cancer is mostly diagnosed is 70 years for both men and women. The exact cause of lung cancer is still unknown.
One or more of the following factors are associated with the development of the disease. These include:
2. Occupational exposure to chemicals
4. Family history
Signs and Symptoms
In initial stages, there are often no symptoms. Symptoms that appear at an advanced stage include:
1. Cough that does not go away even with medication, but worsens with time
2. Coughing out blood
3. Collection of fluid around the lungs (called pleural effusion) leads to chest pain
4. Shortness of breath (wheezing)
5. Hoarseness of voice
6. Difficulty in swallowing
7. Chest pain
8. Weight loss
In order to diagnose lung cancer, the doctor would recommend the following tests.
1. Lab test: It is important to know the type of cells of lungs from which cancer has developed. Treatment and prognosis depend upon identification of the type of cells.
2. Imaging tests: Chest x-ray and CT scan provide information about the type and extent of disease.
3. Biopsy: A small sample of lung tissue is taken from lungs and examined under microscope. Biopsy can be done by one or more of the following methods like,
(c) Needle biopsy
(d) Sputum cytology
The treatment options depend upon the age and overall health of the patient, type and growth of cancer cells, and extent of their spread.
1. Surgery: Depending upon the extent of cancer, surgery can be -- Wedge resection in which small section of lung that contains the tumor is removed.
2. Segmental resection for removal of a segment of lung
3. Lobectomy for removal of an entire lobe of the lung
4. Pneumonectomy for surgical removal of one entire lung
5. Chemotherapy: It is an effective way to destroy cancer cells with the use of special drugs in the form of pills, or intravenous injections.
6. Targeted therapy of lung cancer: It works by targeting specific abnormalities in cancer cells and causes little damage to normal cells.
7. Others: Radiation therapy is done to destroy cancer cells or slow down their rate of growth.
8. Activity and diet: Diet rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A might be useful.
Complications and When Should You See a Doctor
Lung cancer often spreads to other parts of the body, such as the brain and the bones. It can cause pain, nausea, headaches, or other signs and symptoms depending upon the affected organ.
Excessive calcium level in blood is a common complication symptom which may include confusion, delirium, loss of consciousness, mood, or mental changes.
The most common symptom of lung cancer is worsening cough that will not go away and chest discomfort calls for immediate medical intervention.
Frequently Asked Questions about Lung cancer
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