What is Lung Cancer?

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Cancer is a disease caused by out of control abnormal cell divisions. Cancer harms the body and its organ systems when abnormal cells divide in an uncontrolled way to form tumors and lumps that affect the tissues in the body. There are many different types of cancers such as lung cancer, breast cancer, blood cancer. Cancer can start in any part of the body. Human cells divide and form trillions of new cells every single day. When cancer develops in the body, this orderly process breaks down. Cells become abnormal, damaged or even old and are being produced even if they are not needed. The uncontrollable growth of these cells can cause cancer.

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“What is Lung Cancer?”

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Doctors characterize cancer in 4 stages. The stages differentiate the size of cancer and how far it has spread out or grown in the body. Sometimes if the cancer is in one place, the doctor may recommend to get surgery done or even a radiotherapy done to get rid of the cancer completely. But if the cancer is spread to various parts of the body. Then you might need to get systematic treatments which include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted cancer drugs.

There are 2 main types of staging systems for cancer. These are the TNM system and the number system. TNM stands for Tumor, Node, Metastasis. This systems helps doctors identify the size and location of the cancer and where its affecting the body.

  • T refers to the size of the cancer and how far it has spread into nearby tissueit can be 1, 2, 3 or 4, with 1 being small and 4 large
  • N refers to whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodesit can be between 0 (no lymph nodes containing cancer cells) and 3 (lots of lymph nodes containing cancer cells)
  • M refers to whether the cancer has spread to another part of the bodyit can either be 0 (the cancer hasn’t spread) or 1 (the cancer has spread)” (cancerresearchuk.org)

The number stage uses the same method to divide cancer into 4 stages. The 1st stage means that the cancer is small and can be controlled or diagnosed. But as the stages move on, the cancer gets worse and if the cancer reaches stage 4. It is impossible to treat it and the patient will die within a few months unfortunately .

There are many causes of cancer such as alcohol consumption, obesity, diet, hormones, cancer causing substances, radiation and tobacco. In the U.S tobacco is the leading cause of lung cancer. People who smoke or are around that environment have an increase risk of having lung cancer. As tobacco such as cigarettes and cigar pipes has many chemicals that damages the DNA. Tobacco use causes lung cancer.

Lung cancer is a cancer that begins in the lungs and often people who smoke are affected by it.Lung cancer effects the respiratory system and the circulatory system. The respiratory system allows a person to breathe and exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body The parts of the respiratory system that are affected by lung cancer are mouth, larynx, trachea, bronchi and the nasal cavities.

Effects of lung cancer on the circulatory system causes “”Decreased circulation of blood causes hypertension, blood clots, increased heart rate, and arterial wall buildup along with lowered body temperature.” (parashospitals.com)

Lung cancer is the leading cause of death around the world both among men and women. Almost 70 percent people diagnosed with lung cancer are over 65 years of age, while less than 3% of lung cancers occur in people under 45 years of age.

Lung cancer was not common during the 1900s. But as smoking products production increased dramatically, tobacco smoking increased as well. Even though lung cancer is the most common type of cancer among men and women. In the United States lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the common cause of cancer related deaths in women.

There are 2 major types of lung cancers known as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). These two cancers grow in different ways and have different treatment options. SCLC are strongly related to cigarette smoking and is the most rapidly growing of all cancers. “”Referring to a specific cell appearance often seen when examining samples of SCLC under the microscope, these cancers are sometimes called oat cell carcinomas.” NSCLC are the most common and account for 80% of all lung cancers and they consist of several types such as Adenocarcinomas, Large cell carcinomas and Squamous cell carcinomas.

Symptoms and signs

Its hard for the doctors to sometimes recognize or identify the signs and symptoms of the tumor. The symptoms depend upon how widely the cancer spread and where its located. Some people with lung cancer might not feel pain or any sort of changes in their body. Patient with lung cancer must get a CT scan or a chest X- ray done. In the X-ray the tumor discovered looks like a small mass which might end up looking like a coin. People with small masses of tumor often show no reports of signs or symptoms when the cancer is discover because at that time the tumor is not widely spread.

Patients with lung cancer show symptoms of pain in the chest or rib areas and often have breathing problems, shortness of breath. They often have severe dangerous coughs such as chronic, dry, with phlegm, or with blood. If the cancer has damaged some nerves it may cause the patient to have shoulder pain that travels down the outside of the arm leading to hoarseness. People who have problem eating is because their esophagus is damaged which causes them to have distress while swallowing. If an airway of the lung is damaged then an infection known as pneumonia may damage that area of the lungs.

People who have lung cancer also show symptoms of “”weight loss, weakness, and fatigue. Psychological symptoms such as depression and mood changes also are common””. (medicinenet.) These symptoms increase because that the cancer has spread a lot into lungs and nearby areas.

If a person smokes everyday or is a regular smoker. He or she should get in touch with a doctor, so they can find the disease and treat the patient. Doctors use various procedures to diagnose lung cancer. Before they start the procedure the doctors take some screening tests of the lungs in order to make sure the person is getting effected by lung cancer. Doctors may detect signs of breathing difficulty, lung infections and chest pain.

The following are the current diagnostics modalities the doctors use to detect this medical condition.

Chest X-ray: is the first diagnostic procedure the doctors use to detect symptoms of lung cancer. This procedure shows a front to back and overall view of the chest. The chest x-ray reveals the areas of lungs which are probably cancerous. The benign tumors in the lungs also called hamartomas may be identified on a chest X-ray and show signs of lung cancer.

CT (computerized tomography): scan are performed on the chest to examine for any tumors. Both X-rays and CT scans are done with the help of a machine that takes multiple images of the body. The images are then placed on a computer screens to find if there are any areas infected. CT scans help find and detect lung nodules or tumors. CT scan is used to accurately guide cancer treatment during a procedure.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): when a location of the tumor is required the doctors carry out the procedure of MRI. The technique uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body. There are no side effects of the MRI procedure and the images and results produced by MRI scanning can help detect any changes within the body.

Low-dose helical CT scan (or spiral CT scan):is “” is recommended by the USPSTF annually in current and former smokers between ages 55 and 80 with at least a 30 pack-year history of cigarette smoking”” ( medicinenet.com). With the help of this procedure the rate of lung cancer death decreased by 20%.

Sputum cytology: if any type of tumor has infected or invaded the airways of the lungs. The procedure of sputum may allow detect the tumor in the lungs. Doctors recommend this procedure and it is inexpensive. But the use of sputum cytology is limited because sometimes it doesn’t detect cancerous cells.

Bronchoscopy: is a procedure carried out by a pathologist. During the process the doctor uses a bronchoscope which is inserted into the airways, which allows the doctor to examine the trachea, larynx and lower airways of the lungs. This helps determine if any sort of tumor is present or not. This procedure requires anesthesia or sedation which is uncomfortable to many patients. After the procedure the patients don’t feel well. They coughs up blood and has decreased level of oxygen in the blood.

Thoracentesis: is a procedure used to remove air or fluid from the pleural space between the chest walls and lungs. This helps detect the cancer cells and doctors than carry out the diagnosis.

All these procedure are carried out by doctors to diagnose the person and find the presence of tumor in lung cancer. There are 1 to 4 stages that characterize this cancer, according to how much the tumor is spread.

  • Stage 1: the cancer is restricted to the lungs of the patient
  • Stage 2: the cancer is constricted to the chest
  • Stage 3: the deadly tumor and cancer is spreading throughout the lungs
  • Stage 4: the cancer has spread from the chest to other body parts.

There are many treatments for a person suffering from lung cancer such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, and immunotherapy. Medications such as,

Chemotherapy: kills cancerous growing cells that are reproducing or multiplying. But chemotherapy has various and dangerous side effects. Person going through chemotherapy suffer from hair loss, loss of appetite, severe nausea and vomiting, increased levels of infections and easily bruised and bleeding skin.

Immunotherapy: lowers the immune response to diagnose and treat the disease. Taking immunotherapy drugs can cause fatigue, cough, nausea, itching, skin rash, loss of appetite and constipation. Radiation and targeted drug therapy have the same effects.

Also surgeries such as Pulmonary lobectomy help remove lobe of a lung, radiotherapy helps remove a tumor. It focuses high powered energy on a specific area diagnosed with tumor. Wedge resection is the removal of tissue from the lungs to help detect and treat the disease. Also the person should consult doctors and experts such as Oncologist, Palliative medicine, Radiologist, Pulmonologist, Cardiothoracic surgeon, and Primary care provider (PCP) to help get rid of the disease and get fully treated. Quit smoking and staying away from smoking area is better for the person. Many products, such as nicotine gum, nicotine sprays, or nicotine inhalers, may be helpful to people trying to quit smoking. Eat a diet full of vegetables and fruits and go to the gym and exercise regularly.

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What is Lung Cancer?. (2019, Jul 11). Retrieved February 6, 2023 , from

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