The uncontrolled and undesired growth of abnormal cells in the human body is known as cancer. It is the second major cause of mortality globally, but the survival rate is increasing due to diagnosis at an early stage and cancer therapy. Cancer may occur in any part of the body, which comprises millions of cells. Cancer develops when the older cells neither die nor damage, and new cells are continually produced. In some cases, cancer may form a mass of tissues known as a tumor, while in other circumstances, as in blood cancer, there is no solid tumor.
In this article, we’ll go through the causes, symptoms, diagnostic, and treatment methods. After reading this article, we will highlight the leading causes of lung cancer, including but not limited to smoking. If you have symptoms, you’ll be able to spot them early in the course of the disease. This will facilitate the process of diagnosis. Some people are unaware of cancer medication and treatment process, but understanding them is essential to choose the best-suited method of treatment according to the type and stage of cancer.
In the article, we will also cover topics such as passive smoking as an alarming but often silent cause of cancer. So, after having a bird’s eye view, you will be able to protect yourself from this fearful condition.
What is lung cancer?
It is cancer that develops in the lungs. Lung cancer is also known as bronchogenic cancer or bronchogenic carcinoma. It is life-threatening cancer because it can invade surrounding body parts such as adrenal glands, liver, brain, and bones. Smoking and tobacco are the most significant risk factors for lung cancer.
At an early stage, lung cancer symptoms are not apparent because signs occur when the disease advanced. Signs of lung cancer include chest pain, wheezing, bone pain, weakness, headache, weight loss, shortness of breath, coughing, and hoarseness. Lung cancer can affect facial nerves leading to small pupils and drooping of the eyelids.
Sometimes, lung cancer may also produce hormone-like substances that cause additional symptoms such as nausea, confusion, coma, high blood pressure, and vomiting. Other risk factors increase the chance of developing lung cancer, such as smoking, exposure to radon (a naturally-occurring radioactive gas), exposure to tobacco smoke and radiation, family history, and exposure to carcinogens.
Lung cancer cases in the United States
The ratio of lung cancer is higher in men than in women. Lung cancer is diagnosed approximately in 121,680 men each year in the US. In contrast, about 112,350 women are diagnosed each year in the US. In 2018, 154,050 people of America died due to lung cancer. The American Cancer Society predicted approximately 235,760 new lung cancer cases and 131,880 deaths from lung cancer in 2021.
Types of lung cancer
Lung cancer is widely categorized into two kinds. “Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)” is the most commonly diagnosed. This type of cancer usually develops in the outer part of the lungs or the respiratory tract. It neither invades nearby tissues nor requires immediate treatment. The second type of lung cancer is Small-Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC). The overall percentage of occurrence is 15-20%. It grows faster than NSCLC and invades surrounding tissues.
Symptoms and Causes of Cancer
The tumor may be malignant or benign. If cell growth breaks the barrier of cell tissue, invade and spread into nearby tissues, it is known as a malignant tumor. Unlike malignant tumors, benign tumors don’t invade and spread into nearby tissues. Some general cancer symptoms include fatigue, persistent coughing, weight changes, jaundice, headache, and bone fractures.
However, there is no single cause of cancer. Genetic factors and environmental factors both have the potential to cause the disease. Common triggers include heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, poor nutrition, radiation exposure, physical inactivity, infections, and excessive body weight.
Diagnosis of lung cancer
The outcome of treatment improves when lung cancer is diagnosed at an early stage. It can be diagnosed by specific tests.
- The first method is through imaging tests. In the imaging evaluations, the X-rays show the mass of abnormal cells in our lungs or a nodule. After this, a CT scan is performed to reveal the extent and type of cancer.
- The second method is sputum cytology. If someone is having deep coughing and producing sputum, this test is performed. The sputum is observed under a microscope to look for lung cancer cells or another infection.
- The third method is through tissue sampling. In this case, the doctor performs a biopsy by using an instrument that passes through our throat to the lungs and pinpoints the infected area. The biopsy can be achieved with a closed or open method.
Treatment of lung cancer
Different types of treatments can be recommended, but none of them is tagged as the perfect solution for all kinds of cancers. The treatment depends on the extent and type of cancer. The most frequently used methods are as follows:
Surgery features the complete removal of the tumor. Three kinds of surgery methods are practiced in the treatment of lung cancer.
Lobectomy: In lobectomy, the affected lobe of the lung is removed.
Pneumonectomy: In pneumonectomy, the entire lung is removed. It is practiced when the cancer is in the center of the lung.
Wedge resection: In wedge resection, the limited part of the lung is removed. Before surgery, an electrocardiogram and spirometry are carried out to check the health state of the patient.
In radiotherapy, different radiations are applied to destroy cancerous cells. It is practiced if the patient is not healthy for surgery or can control cancer symptoms, especially pain. The radiations can be directed on the affected part or can be passed with a catheter.
In chemotherapy, different medicines are taken by patients to cure cancer or to shrink it before surgery. This treatment takes place in a cycle, in which drugs are taken for some days, followed by a break period for some days. The number and duration of the cycles depend on the type and extent of cancer spreading.
In immunotherapy, medicines are taken to boost up immunity. So, immunotherapy fights against cancer and kills cancerous cells with your own immune cells and substances. It is mostly used along with chemotherapy. These medicines are usually given intravenously but can cause fatigue, joint pain, and swelling, etc.
The use of chemotherapy and radiation in cancer treatment can cause some adverse effects such as hair loss, skin-damaging, mouth sores, and vomiting. Supportive therapy can be adopted to suppress these adverse side effects.
Some home remedies can also be practiced to find some relief. These remedies include massage to alleviate pain and anxiety, acupuncture to ease the pain, nausea, and vomiting, over-the-counter and herbal medications to reduce stress, hypnosis to help with anxiety, and yoga to improve the sleeping pattern.
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