Celebrities like Gary Cooper, Kenny Rankin, Carrie Hamilton and many more have already fallen to the traps of lung cancer. It has also been known to claim many lives over the past years. But what exactly is lung cancer? How will you know if you or someone you know is already in its clutches? What can you do to treat this disease?
Lung cancer is caused by an unrestrained growth of anomalous cells in the lungs. The number of cases for each year has been escalating due to the increase in popularity of tobacco usage. Some causes of this disease include smoking (active and passive), gene vulnerability, air pollution, and lung diseases. Metastatic lung cancer can be caused by prostate, breast, and bladder cancer as well as other cancer types.
There is a possibility that no symptoms may appear. But it can still be detected through CT scan or a chest x-ray. On the other hand, symptoms can be observed because of the growth of the cancer, as well as lung and surrounding tissue invasions. This may cause coughing, wheezing, chest pain and shortness of breath. Hemoptysis or coughing of blood may also be a result.
If the nerves are affected, then this may result in Pancoast's Syndrome. This is the pain in your shoulders that reaches to the outside of your arm. Your voice may become hoarse because of paralyzed vocal cords. If the esophagus is affected, you might have problems with swallowing. Lung infection may also occur.
Affected areas of metastasis may consist of your brain, liver, adrenal glands, bones, or opposite lung. If the cancer has spread to your bones, that may result in bone cancer, it may cause severe pains in the affected areas. When the cancer gets to your brain, it may cause symptoms of stroke, seizures, headache or blurred vision. Lung cancer may cause adrenal gland and liver cancer. It may not show any symptoms when these occur.
Paraneoplastic symptoms are those caused by the cancer in your body, but may be remote from the origin of cancer itself. These include Cushing syndrome, hypercalcimia, hypertrophic pulmonary osteoarthropathy, or Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic hormones (SIADH). Some symptoms may appear prevalently depending on the lung cancer type, as SIADH is more common to small-cell llung cancer.
Treatments for lung cancer may differ depending on the lung cancer type and stage. After a diagnosis, the medical team will decide with the patient as to what treatment plan is most applicable. Some of the well-known treatments for lung cancer are:
- Surgery. This is often preferred for non-small cell lung cancer that has been detected at its early stage. A lung scan will also be done prior to the surgery to see how much of your lung functions will remain after the surgery. Some of the known procedures are wedge resection (removing a small part of the lung where the tumor is located), lobectomy (removing a lobe of the lung), or pneumonectomy (removing a lung).
- Chemotherapy. This is recognized as treatment for small-cell lung cancer. This is also recommended for people who have undergone surgery to avoid the cancer from recurring. Chemicals are used to kill the cancer cells or to avoid the cells from dividing. This is also used to treat non-small cell cancer already in its advanced stages.
- Radiation Therapy. This uses high dosage of X-rays to kill the cancer cells. This is often used together with surgery and/or chemotherapy. This is done to reduce the size of the tumor or kill remaining cancer cells in a patient's body after surgery. This is also applied to a patient's chest to control the symptoms of lung cancer
- Targeted Therapy. It uses medicines that target particular molecules that aid in cancer growth. This, in turn, prevents the cancer from progressing.
The survival rate for metastatic lung cancer after five years from diagnosis is about 2%. For a patient whose lung cancer has been detected at its early stage, the survival rate after five years from detection is around 49%.
Lung cancer is a serious disease. If you feel that you have these symptoms, it is advisable that you go for a checkup. And if you are smoking, please quit, as it is one of the leading causes of this disease. Lung cancer is a serious threat and should not be taken lightly.