Lung Cancer Overview – Types of lung cancer
Every year hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed with lung cancer.
The most common types of cancer are named according to how under a microscope how lung cancer appears:
Small cell lung cancer cells appear small under a microscope. Out of every 8 people, one person has small cell lung cancer.
Non-small cell lung cancer cells are larger than cells of small cell lung cancer. Most of the people (about 7 out of 8 people) of lung cancer are diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer, which does not grow and does not spread rapidly with the growth and spread of small cell lung cancer itself, and it is treated differently.
And because most people who get lung cancer are smokers, so doctors and other people assume you are a smoker or have smoked before (if not).
After the patient knows that he has lung cancer, he needs to undergo staging tests to help us make a decision about treatment, and these tests can show the stage (or size) of lung cancer, such as the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body.
When lung cancer has spread, the cancer cells are most often located near the lymph nodes. Lung cancer can spread from the lung to any other part of the body, such as the brain, bone, other lung, or adrenal gland.
The staging Tests Include The Following:
- CT scan: It is an X-ray machine that takes a series of detailed pictures of the chest, abdomen, brain, or other parts of the body while taking a dye material by injection to the patient or orally. And the dye works to facilitate the appearance of affected areas. The captured images can also show the size of the tumor in the lung. Images can also show the cancer has spread to the liver, adrenal glands, brain, or other organs.
- PET scan: To obtain a clearer picture of the tumor inside the lung or to discover the spreading cancer, and here a small amount of radioactive sugar is injected. The device creates pictures of sugar that the cells use in the body. And because cancer cells use sugar faster than normal cells, the areas affected by cancer cells appear brighter on the pictures.
- Magnetic Resonance imaging (MRI): a strong magnet connected to a computer that is used to make detailed images of the head or spine. This imaging can show whether the cancer has spread to these areas or not. Sometimes the dye material is used to show the affected areas more clearly on the image.
- Bone Scan: By injecting a radioactive substance that travels through the bloodstream and collects in the bones. A device called a scanner detects and measures radiation. The scanner takes pictures of the bones. And because more radioactive material is collected in the areas affected by cancer, the images can show the cancer that has spread to the bones.
Questions the patient may want to ask the doctor about the tests:
What kind of lung cancer do I have?
Has the cancer spread from the lung? And if it has spread, to where?
Stages Of The Disease:
The stage of lung cancer depends mainly on …
the size of the lung tumor
How deep the tumor has spread close to tissue, such as the chest wall
Cancer cells have spread in the lung to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body
Stages of non-small cell lung cancer:
Doctors describe the stages of non-small cell lung cancer using Roman numerals I, II, III, and IV. Stage I is an early stage cancer, and stage IV is an advanced cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones.
The latent stage of lung tumor:
Tumor cells are found in the sputum, but CT scans and other imaging tests do not show a lung tumor.
Stage 0 lung tumor:
The affected cells are located inside the deep inner lining of the lung, and the tumor has not spread through this lining. A tumor in stage 0 is called an in situ carcinoma
Stage I lung cancer:
A lung tumor is an invasive cancer, and it has spread through the deep inner lining of the lung into the deepest tissue in it. The tumor is surrounded by normal tissue and does not invade nearby tissues, such as the chest wall.
The tumor is less than 5 centimeters (about 2 inches) deep. And the cancer cells are not found near the lymph nodes
Stage II lung cancer:
The tumor is smaller than 7 centimeters in depth, and the cancer cells are located near the lymph nodes.
Or that the cancer cells are not found in the adjacent lymph nodes, the lung form is either more than 5 centimeters in depth, or it invades neighboring tissues, such as the chest wall, the diaphragm, the lateral membrane, the main branches of the trachea, or the tissue surrounding the heart.
Stage III lung cancer
The tumor in it may be any size
Cancer cells may be found in the lymph nodes on one side of the chest or neck, and the tumor may have invaded neighboring organs such as the heart, esophagus, or windpipe.
Stage IV lung cancer
In which malignant tumors are located in both lungs, or the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the brain, bone, liver, or adrenal gland, or cancer cells are found in the fluid between the two layers of the membrane surrounding the lung.
Stages of small cell lung cancer:
Most doctors describe the stages of small cell lung cancer as two stages:
Limited stage: This cancer is found on one side of the chest.
Stage aExtended: the cancer is found inside the lung as well as within tissues on the other side of the chest. Or that lung cancer is found in distant organs such as the brain or the fluid between the layers of the lung membranes.
Lung Cancer Treatment
Many treatment options are available for lung cancer patients, and treatment options include the following :
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
The appropriate treatment for you depends mainly on the type of lung cancer and the stage it has reached, and the patient may receive more than one type of treatment.
At any stage of lung cancer, care should be available to control pain, address breathing problems, and to reduce side effects of treatment.
Your Medical Care Team May Include:
- Consultant thoracic surgical oncologist:
He is a surgeon who specializes in surgery for lung tumors and other tumors of the chest.
- Medical oncologist:
A doctor who specializes in treating cancer with drugs such as chemotherapy and targeted therapy.
- Radiation oncologist:
A doctor who specializes in treating cancer with radiation therapy
Questions the patient may want to ask the doctor about treatment options:
What are my treatment options?
Which do you advise me to follow? Why?
What are the expected benefits of each treatment?
What are the risks and potential side effects of each treatment?
How do you deal with side effects?
What do I do to prepare for treatment?
Will I need to stay in the hospital? And if I need to, how long will I stay?
How much does the treatment cost? Does my insurance cover these expenses?
How will the treatment affect my normal activities?
Is it appropriate for me to undergo a treatment research study?
Surgery may be an option for treating patients with early-stage lung cancer.
And the surgeon usually removes only the part of the lung affected by cancer, most people who undergo surgery are removed with them the lung lobe with cancer, and that is the process of lobectomy. In some cases, the surgeon removes the tumor with less tissue from the entire lobe, or removes the entire lung. The surgeon also removes lymph nodes.
Radiation therapy is a treatment option for patients with lung cancer at any stage:
Early stage cancer patients may choose to undergo radiation therapy instead of surgery.
After surgery, radiation therapy may be used to destroy any cancer cells that may remain in the chest.
In advanced lung cancer, radiotherapy may be used in combination with chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy may be used to help shrink a tumor blocking the airway.
Radiation therapy may be used to help relieve pain caused by lung cancer that has spread to the bone or other tissues.
Radiation therapy is usually used to treat lung cancer that has spread to the brain.
The radiation comes from a huge device that directs high-energy rays into the patient’s body to kill cancer cells. The treatment only affects the area being treated, such as the chest area.
The treatment sessions are usually 5 days a week for about 6 weeks. Usually, each treatment session lasts less than 20 minutes.
Although radiotherapy does not cause pain, it may cause other side effects. Side effects mainly depend on the amount of radiation the body receives and the physical area being treated.
Radiation therapy directed at the chest may cause a sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, or a burning sensation in the chest or throat, and these problems usually disappear upon the end of the treatment period.
It is known that the skin in the chest area becomes red, dry and dark, and sometimes the skin appears sensitive or irritated.
It is possible to feel tired during radiation therapy, especially in the last weeks of treatment. Although adequate rest is necessary, most patients say they feel more comfortable if they exercise on a daily basis. Such as walking, some light stretching, or yoga.
Questions a patient may want to ask the doctor regarding radiation therapy:
When does treatment begin?
And when does it end?
How often will I undergo treatment sessions?
How would I feel during the treatment?
Will I be able to drive myself to and from the session?
What can I do to take care of myself before, during and after treatment?
How do I know if a treatment is working?
What side effects should I expect?
Which should I tell you about?
Are there any lasting effects?
Chemotherapy may be used alone, with radiation therapy, or after surgery.
Chemotherapy may use drugs to kill cancer cells. Lung cancer drugs are usually injected directly into a vein (intravenous injection).
Chemotherapy is received in a clinic or hospital, and some people rarely need to stay in the hospital during treatment.
The side effects depend mainly on the type and quantity of the drugs used. Chemotherapy kills fast-growing cancer cells, but the drugs may also harm healthy rapidly dividing cells, such as:
Blood cells: When the drugs reduce the level of healthy blood cells, the patient is likely to become infected, wounds or bleed easily, and to feel very weak and tired.
Cells in hair roots: Chemotherapy may lead to hair loss, but it will return again after the end of the treatment period, but its color and texture may change.
Cells that line the gastrointestinal tractCells that line digestive tract: Chemotherapy may cause poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, or inflammation of the mouth and lips.
Other possible side effects may include hair loss, joint pain, and tingling or numbness in the fingers or toes.
Patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer may receive a type of treatment called targeted therapy. Several types of targeted therapy are used to treat non-small cell lung cancer. Only one type is used if a laboratory examination of cancer tissue shows a specific genetic change. Targeted therapies can impede the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Depending on the type of drug used in the treatment, targeted therapy for lung cancer is given by intravenous or oral injection. The drug enters the bloodstream and can affect cancer cells throughout the body.
Questions you might want to ask your doctor about chemotherapy or targeted therapy:
Or what kind of drugs do you recommend for me to take?
How effective is it?
What are the possible side effects? How can we face it?
When does treatment begin? And when does it end?
How often will I undergo treatment sessions?
How do we know that treatment is working?
Will I have any lasting side effects?