What is lung cancer?
An illness known as cancer occurs when body cells proliferate uncontrollably. Lung cancer is the term for cancer that originates in the lungs.
One of the most prevalent cancers in the US is lung cancer. The most prevalent type of cancer diagnosed in the US is skin cancer, which is followed by breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US. This holds for both genders. Lung cancer rates are declining nationally as fewer people smoke and as lung cancer therapies advance, after rising for decades. Due to increased early detection of the disease, when therapy is most effective, people with lung cancer are now living longer after being diagnosed.
First and foremost, lung cancer is mostly caused by cigarette smoking. Other tobacco products (such as pipes or cigars), second-hand smoke inhalation, exposure to radon or asbestos at work or home, certain gene mutations (anomalous changes produced when your body’s cells divide), and a family history of lung cancer can also be risk factors for lung cancer. Even those who have never smoked or who have smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime may develop lung cancer.
Which kinds of lung cancer exist?
Although several malignancies impact the lungs, non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer are the two main types that are commonly referred to as “lung cancer.”
- Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
The most prevalent kind of lung cancer is non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). More than 80% of cases of lung cancer are related to it. Squamous cell cancer and adenocarcinoma are common varieties. Two less frequent forms of NSCLC are sarcomatoid carcinoma and adenosquamous carcinoma.
- Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
Comparatively speaking, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) grows more slowly and is easier to cure. A comparatively small lung tumor that has already migrated to other parts of your body is typically how it is discovered. Small cell carcinoma, also known as oat cell carcinoma, and mixed small cell carcinoma are two specific forms of SCLC.
Lung cancer of other types:
Sarcomas, which are cancer of the soft tissues or bones, lymphomas, which are cancers of the lymph nodes, and pleural mesothelioma, which is cancer of the lining of the lungs, are among the other cancers that can begin in or near the lungs. These are typically not referred to as lung cancer and are treated differently.
Which stages exist for lung cancer?
The initial tumor’s size, the depth to which it penetrates the surrounding tissue, and whether or not it has migrated to lymph nodes or other organs are typically used to stage cancer. There are specific staging guidelines for each form of cancer.
Staging of lung cancer:
Every stage can fit into that category in several different sizes and spread combinations. For example, a Stage III cancer may have a smaller primary tumor than a Stage II cancer, but the tumor is at a more advanced stage due to other causes. Lung cancer staging generally entails:
- Stage 0 (in-situ): The bronchus or upper lining of the lung has cancer. It hasn’t moved outside of the lung or to other areas of the lung.
- Stage I: The lung has not yet been invaded by cancer.
- Stage II: Cancer has progressed to the lung’s lymph nodes, is larger than Stage I, or has many tumors in the same lung lobe.
- Stage III: Cancer has spread to neighboring lymph nodes or structures, is larger than Stage II, or has many tumors in separate lobes of the same lung.
- Stage IV: The cancer has progressed to the neighbouring lung, the fluid around the lung, the heart, or other distant organs.
Limited and extensive stage:
Although small cell lung cancer is currently diagnosed in stages I through IV, it is also sometimes referred to as a limited or extensive stage. Whether the region can be treated by a single radiation field will determine this. One lung is all that is affected by limited-stage SCLC, which can also occasionally be found in the lymph nodes in the middle of the chest or above the collarbone on the same side.
In an extensive stage, small cell lung cancer (SCLC) has spread to other sections of the body, lymph nodes on the opposite side of the lung, or throughout one lung.
How lung cancer is caused by smoking
Medical professionals think that smoking damages the cells lining the lungs, which leads to lung cancer. The inhalation of cigarette smoke, a mixture of chemicals known as carcinogens that cause cancer, causes rapid alterations in the lung tissue.
Your body might be able to repair this harm initially. However, the normal cells lining your lungs sustain more harm with each exposure. Cells begin to behave abnormally as a result of the damage over time, and cancer may eventually result.
Lung cancer types
Based on how lung cancer cells appear under a microscope, doctors classify lung cancer into two main categories. Depending on the primary form of lung cancer you have, your doctor will decide how to proceed with treatment.
Lung cancer can be of two general types:
Lung cancer with little cells. Compared to non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer is less common and virtually exclusively affects heavy smokers.
lung cancer with non-small cells. A variety of lung cancer forms are grouped under the phrase “non-small cell lung cancer.” Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma are examples of non-small cell lung malignancies.
Your chance of developing lung cancer may be increased by several factors. It is possible to control certain risk factors, such as stopping smoking. Furthermore, certain elements—like your family history—are uncontrollable.
Lung cancer risk factors include:
- Consuming tobacco. The number of cigarettes you smoke daily and the length of time you have smoked raise your risk of lung cancer. You can dramatically reduce your risk of lung cancer by quitting at any age.
- Exposure to smoke in the vicinity. Exposure to second-hand smoke raises the risk of lung cancer even in nonsmokers.
- Prior radiation therapy. You may be more susceptible to lung cancer if you have had radiation therapy to the chest for any other kind of cancer.
- Exposure to the gas radon. When uranium naturally decays in soil, rock, and water, it releases radon, which eventually finds its way into the air you breathe. Any building, including dwellings, can develop dangerously high amounts of radon.
- Asbestos and carcinogen exposure. Workplace exposure to chemicals known to cause cancer, such as nickel, chromium, and arsenic, can raise your risk of lung cancer, all the more if you are a smoker.
- History of lung cancer in the family. An elevated chance of lung cancer exists in those who have a parent, sibling, or child with the illness.
Complications Lung cancer may result in the following complications:
- Respiration difficulty/ shortness of breath. Breathlessness may occur in lung cancer patients if the malignancy spreads to the point where it blocks one or more main airways. Additionally, fluid buildup around the lungs due to lung cancer can impede the affected lung’s ability to fully inflate during inhalation.
- Spitting/ coughing up blood. Hemoptysis, or coughing up blood, is a possible side effect of lung cancer-related bleeding in the airways. Severe bleeding can occur occasionally. There are therapies available to manage bleeding.
- Pain. Pain may be experienced if advanced lung cancer spreads to the lung lining or another part of the body, including the bone. Inform your physician if you are in pain, as there are numerous ways to manage discomfort.
- Chest fluid (pleural effusion). Pleural space, the area of the chest cavity surrounding the damaged lung, can fill with fluid as a result of lung cancer.
Breathlessness may result from fluid building up in the chest. There are ways to relieve the pressure in your chest and lessen the possibility of another pleural effusion.
- Metastasizing cancer occurs when cancer spreads to other regions of the body. Metastasizing lung cancer frequently involves the spread of disease to other organs, including the brain and bones. Depending on which organ is impacted, cancer that spreads can produce pain, nausea, headaches, or other signs and symptoms. Lung cancer is usually incurable once it has progressed outside of the lungs. There are therapies to assist you in living a longer life and to lessen symptoms.
Lung cancer cannot be completely avoided, although you can lower your risk if you:
- Avoid smoking. Don’t start if you’ve never smoked. Have a conversation with your kids about quitting smoking so they can learn how to reduce their exposure to this significant lung cancer risk factor. Talk to your kids early on about the risks associated with smoking so they will know how to handle peer pressure.
- Give up smoking. Don’t smoke right now. Even if you have smoked for years, stopping lowers your risk of developing lung cancer. Consult your physician about effective quitting methods and products. Support groups, drugs, and nicotine replacement therapies are available options.
- Do not smoke around others. Encourage the smoker you live or work with to give it up. Ask them to smoke outside, at the very least. Don’t go to places where people smoke, including pubs and restaurants, and look for smoke-free places to go instead.
- Check for radon in your house. Check your home’s radon levels, especially if you reside in a region where radon is known to be an issue. Remedial of high radon levels might increase the safety of your house. Get in touch with your local American Lung Association chapter or Department of Public Health for information on radon testing.
- Steer clear of carcinogens at work. Take preventative measures to shield yourself from hazardous chemical exposure at work. Observe the safety recommendations of your workplace. If you are provided with a face mask for protection, for example, wear it at all times. What more can you do to safeguard yourself at work? Find out from your doctor. Smoking raises your risk of lung damage from occupational carcinogens.
- Consume a diet rich in fruits and veggies. Pick a balanced diet that includes a range of fruits and vegetables. Vitamins and nutrients are best obtained from food. Large vitamin tablet doses should be avoided as they may be hazardous. For example, researchers supplemented heavy smokers with beta-carotene in an attempt to lower their risk of lung cancer. The supplements raised smokers’ risk of cancer, according to the results.
- On most days of the week, work out. If you’re not an exerciser, go slowly at first. On most days of the week, try to work out.
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