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Lung Cancer : Definition, Causes, Tests and Treatments


Lung Cancer is a common cancer type and develops in our lungs. The lung cells stop following the natural pattern and begin to grow and divide quite unnaturally. This leads to the formation of a solid mass which we call Tumours.

Smoking, by far, is the leading cause of lung cancer. The earlier this disorder is detected, the easiest and effective the treatment is likely to be.

Causes / Risk Factors

Smoking – the more Cigarettes you smoke each day and the longer you smoke significantly enhances your chances of developing lung cancer. Even passive smokers – who don’t smoke themselves but inhale it because of someone near them smokes – are at a higher risk.

Quitting smoking at any age makes you less susceptible to lung cancer.

Family history – if someone in your family has had a lung cancer, you’re at an increased risk of the disease.

Exposure to radon gas –the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water leads to the production of radon gas. It then becomes part of the air you breathe and might cause lung cancer.

Exposure to asbestos and other chemicals – there’re certain chemicals which might cause lung cancer. They primarily include asbestos, arsenic, chromium and nickel.

Tests and Diagnosis

 Biopsy – a procedure in which a small amount of tissue is taken out of your body for examination under a microscope – by far, it is the most effective way to tell whether you’ve got lung cancer.

A lung cancer specialist may put you under several tests to determine the presence and extent of the disease. Moreover, certain tests might also help the doctor to determine the best treatment for your lung cancer.

Molecular testing of the tumour, Sputum cytology, Bronchoscopy, Needle aspiration/core biopsy, Thoracentesis, Thoracoscopy, and Mediastinoscopy are amongst other procedures that may be conducted to diagnose lung cancer. Some imaging tests, such as a CT scan, are also important in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.

Based on appearance, doctors often classify Lung Cancer into Small Cell Carcinoma (which accounts for only 20% of the total lung cancers) and Non-small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) which accounts for 80% of lung cancers.

Lung cancer treatment

Lung cancer specialists use one or a combination of procedures to treat lung cancer. The prominent lung cancer treatments include Surgery, Radiation Therapy, Chemotherapy, and Targeted Therapy.

Your doctor will ideally look into several factors, such as the type and stage of cancer, possible side effects, and your personal preferences and overall health, to decide on a treatment plan.

Surgery – in this procedure, an oncologist will surgically remove the tumours or affected part of the lungs. Recovery would primarily depend on how much of the lung has been removed and the health of the patient and how well the patient follows the post-surgical dos and don’ts.

Radiation – a radiation oncologist leverages highly concentrated x-rays to destroy the tumour. External-beam radiation therapy is the most common type of radiation treatment, which is given from a machine outside the body.

Chemotherapy – a medical oncologist will take the lead in this form of cancer treatment. Highly effective drugs are used to control and destroy cancer cells. The treatment dramatically improves both the length and quality of life for people with lung cancer of all stages.

Targeted Therapy – This treatment therapy specifically targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that causes cancer growth and survival in lungs. The treatment not only stops the growth and spread of cancer cells but also ensures the least possible damage to surrounding, healthy tissue.

Combining treatments for better results – it’s highly possible that the lung cancer patient will receive more than one type of cancer treatment from more than one cancer specialist. For example, you might receive chemotherapy before and after a lung surgery, or before, during and after a radiation therapy. Your doctors will determine the best possible treatment for your lung cancer so that you can recover and get back to your normal life as early as possible.

Read more on lung cancer here.

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