Lung Cancer

What is Lung Cancer ?

Lung Cancer is a condition that causes uncontrollable division of cells in the lungs. This results in tumor growth, which decreases a person’s breathing capacity. It starts in the lungs and can spread through the blood or lymph nodes to other organs of the body. The process through which cancer cells travel and affect other organs is  called metastasis. Lung cancers are typically classified into two major groups, called Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) and Non Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC), the latter of which is more common. These two types of lung cancer have different symptoms and their mode of treatment varies as well.

 

As you breathe in, air flows through your mouth or nose, and the trachea through your lungs. The trachea divides into bronchial tubes that enter the lungs and divide into smaller bronchi. These split into smaller branches, which are called bronchioles. There are tiny air sacs at the end of the bronchioles known as alveoli. The alveoli draws oxygen from the inhaled air and releases carbon dioxide, which is exhaled from the body. 

 

Typically, symptoms of lung cancer originate in the cells lining the bronchi and lung sections, such as the bronchioles or alveoli.

A thin layer of padding called pleura covers the lungs. The pleura supports the lungs and allows them to move back and forth against the chest wall as they expand and contract. A small, dome-shaped muscle, called the diaphragm, separates the chest from the abdomen under the lungs. The diaphragm goes up and down as you breathe, driving air into and out of the lungs.

What Are The Types of Lung Cancer?

  1.   Adenocarcinomas

Adenocarcinomas account for up to 40 percent of cases of lung cancer. Although adenocarcinomas, like other lung cancers, are associated with smoking, these cancer types are often seen in non-smokers— especially in women. Most adenocarcinomas occur in the outer, or secondary lung regions. They, too, continue to spread to and beyond the lymph nodes. Adenocarcinoma in situ is a subtype of adenocarcinoma that frequently occurs in the lungs at several locations and spreads along pre-existing alveolar walls.

 

Symptoms of Adenocarcinomas

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Continuous bleeding
  • Low red blood cell counts
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes

 

  1.   Squamous

Earlier, squamous cell carcinomas were more common than adenocarcinomas; currently, they account for around 25 to 30 percent of all cases of lung cancer. Squamous cell cancers are also known as epidermoid carcinomas most commonly found in the bronchi’s central chest region. In most cases, this type of lung cancer stays within the lungs, spreads to lymph nodes, and grows very large, creating a cavity.

 

Symptoms of Squamous

 

  • Flat sore with a scaly crust
  • A new sore or raised area on an old wound or ulcer
  • Red or rough patch inside your mouth
  • Red, raised patch or wart-like sore on or in your anus or genitals

 

  1.   Small Cell Carcinomas

Large cell carcinomas, also called undifferentiated carcinomas, comprise 10%-15% of all lung cancers. These cancer types have a strong propensity to spread to distant sites and lymph nodes.

 

Symptoms of Small Cell Carcinomas

  • Chronic cough and blood coughing
  • Back, shoulder, or chest pain
  • Weakness, moderate shortness of breath or achiness

 

  1.  Bronchial

 

Up to 5 percent of lung cancers account for bronchial carcinoids. Such tumors are usually tiny when diagnosed and most often occur in people under the age of 30-40. Carcinoid tumors may metastasize due to cigarette smoking, and a small proportion of these lung cancer tumors secrete hormone-like substances. In general, carcinoids develop and spread more slowly than bronchogenic cancers, and many are identified early enough for surgical removal.

 

Symptoms of Bronchial

  • Cough
  • Production of mucus, which can be yellowish-gray or green in color — it may also be streaked with blood sometimes
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort

What Are the Early Signs of Lung Cancer?

Early lung cancer signs and symptoms are as following:

  • A cough that gets worse
  • Coughing up blood or rusty sputum
  • Chest pain that frequently gets worse with heavy breathing, coughing or laughing
  • Loss of Appetite 
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain and continuous vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling exhausted or sluggish
  • Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia
  • New onset of wheezing

What are the causes of Lung cancer?

The basic lung cancer causes include the following:

 

  • Smoking

 

High incidence of Lung cancer is closely associated with cigarette smoking, with around 90 percent of lung cancers resulting from tobacco use. The risk of lung cancer rises with the number of cigarettes consumed over time; doctors refer to this risk in terms of smoking history or pack-years.

 

  • Asbestos fibers

 

Asbestos fibers, simply known as asbestos, are silicate fibers, which can remain in lung tissue following exposure to asbestos over a significant period of time. Contaminated workplace is a growing source of asbestos fiber exposure, as asbestos has been commonly used in the past for both thermal and acoustic insulation materials. Exposure to asbestos results in both lung cancer and mesothelioma.

 

Radon gas is a natural, chemically inert gas that is a result of uranium’s natural decay. This decays to form products which release a kind of ionizing radiation. Radon gas is a recognized cause of lung cancer, with an estimation of 10% of deaths.

 

Although most lung cancers are associated with cigarette smoking, the fact that not all smokers ultimately develop lung cancer indicates that other factors also play an important role in causing lung cancer, such as individual genetic susceptibility.

 

  • Lung Disease

 

The prevalence of some lung diseases, especially chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is correlated with a significantly increased risk of developing different types of lung cancer even after the consequences of concomitant cigarette smoking are removed.

 

Each year, 3% of survivors of non-small cell lung cancers have an increased chance of developing lung cancer for a second time. 5% of survivors of small cell lung cancers have the risk of developing cancer again for the second time. 

 

Air emissions from cars, factories, and power plants can increase the risk of developing lung cancer. Up to 3 percent of deaths from lung cancer are due to the inhalation of polluted air, and experts agree that prolonged exposure to highly polluted air can present a risk similar to passive smoking for lung cancer growth.

Risk Factors Involved in Lung Cancer

We are all aware that cigarette smoking can lead to lung cancer. Exposure to toxic compounds such as arsenic, certain organic chemicals, radon, asbestos, exposure to radiation, air pollution, tuberculosis, and indoor cigarette smoke can also raise a person’s risk of developing lung cancer.

 

  • Family History

 

Family history can raise a person’s risk of developing lung cancer; and if you are exposed to other factors , such as smoking,the risk multiplies. When you have a family member that has lung cancer, you are twice as likely as anyone without a family history of lung cancer to develop cancer. The odds of developing lung cancer are even higher for people who have two or more first-degree relatives (brothers, sisters, parents, or children) with  lung cancer, or have anyone in the family with a history of developing lung cancer. 

 

  • Workplace Exposure

 

Asbestos exposure is well known to cause mesothelioma. Asbestos was once widely used in building materials and insulation, but is no longer in use now. Over the years of their jobs, people who worked in construction, shipbuilding, manufacturing companies and in other similar fields may have been exposed to asbestos. For all reported mesothelioma cases, 80 percent were associated with workplace exposure to asbestos. Certain contaminants— including arsenic, nickel, and chromium, as well as tar and soot — can also increase the risk of developing lung cancer, particularly for people who don’t smoke.

 

  • Environmental Exposure

 

Homes and workplaces may harbor chemicals or other substances that can increase the risk of lung cancer for people who frequent these places. Radon is the main suspect of lung cancer caused by occupational exposure. Approximately 20 percent of deaths caused by lung cancer is related to radon exposure in people who have never smoked. 

 

  • Passive smoking

 

Exposure to exhaled smoke by smokers results in the situation when a non-smoker becomes a victim of passive smoking. In such cases, non-smokers also develop the risk of lung cancer. Although in smaller amounts, passive smokers inhale the same carcinogenic chemicals of tobacco.

How to Prevent Lung Cancer?

  • Quit Smoking

 

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. It’s never too late to stop smoking. The cessation of smoking may improve survival rates for those who are diagnosed with lung cancer. What many people do not know is that an additional risk factor for lung cancer are untreated obstructive pulmonary diseases (such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis).

 

  • Check Radon Level

 

For non-smokers, radon screening is the primary thing you can do to avoid lung cancer. Radon is the primary cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause of untreated lung cancer. Radon is an odorless gas released from natural uranium degradation in the soil. The only way to learn if you’re at risk is to check the radon levels in your house or workplace.

 

  • Exercise      

 

Short exercise routines can aid in preventing lung cancer tumors. Research states that even something as easy as jogging everyday is related to a lower risk of developing lung cancer. Apart from exercising, always consult the best lung cancer hospital for an exercise plan during treatment or post cancer treatment.

 

  • Drink Green Tea

 

It has been studied that green tea removes some of the cell damage caused by smoking, and some studies indicate that people who drink more green tea tend to have a lower risk of lung cancer. Green tea also acts as a lung cancer medication, which helps in decreasing the size of the lung tumor.

 

  • Limit Your Alcohol Consumption

 

Another effective step in avoiding lung cancer is to restrict the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Too much of hard liquor intake is associated with an increased risk of developing lung cancer.

Diagnosis of Lung Cancer

1.Screening

 

  • Lung cancer must be found as early as possible. For early diagnosis, an initial lung cancer screening is recommended for people who have no symptoms and meet the following criteria:
  • People aged between 55 to 80 years who smoked for a minimum of 30 years
  • Continue to smoke or left smoking in the last 15 years

 

2.Physical Examination

 

  • Once suspected of lung cancer, a doctor will conduct a physical examination and will need the detailed history of the patient. Various blood tests are also performed to determine lung cancer symptoms and risk factors and to check for any possible clinical signs of the disease.

 

Physical signs may include:

  • Abnormal pulmonary sounds
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fingernail clubbing

 

3.Chest X-ray

 

  • The X-ray of the chest is typically the first examination performed to determine any issues based on the detailed history and physical test. It may indicate mass in the lungs or lymph nodes that are swollen.

 

4.CT scan

 

  • A CT scan is always the second phase, either to follow up on an irregular X-ray finding in the chest or if the cause of troubling symptoms is not clear to the doctor yet. CT scanning involves a series of X-rays that produce a 3D image of the lungs. Unless the CT is anomalous, the lung cancer diagnosis also requires validation by analyzing a sample of lung tissue.

 

5.Lung Biopsy

 

  • Lung biopsy is done to ascertain whether the abnormality is cancer and to ascertain the type of lung cancer. The biopsy material may be collected by bronchoscopy, ultrasound endobronchial, fine needle aspiration, thoracentesis, or mediastinoscopy.

 

6.Sputum cytology

 

  • Sputum cytology is the easiest way to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the form of lung cancer, but its use is limited to those tumors which extend into the airways.

What Are the Treatment Options for Lung Cancer?

Treatment for lung cancer is available in a variety of ways, depending on the type of lung cancer, and how far it has spread. People with non-small cell lung cancer may be treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, laser therapy. Patients with small-cell lung cancer typically undergo radiation therapy and chemotherapy treatment.

 

  • Surgery   

 

This is one of the primary choices of patients for whom lung cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. This is typically the only way to treat non-small cell lung cancer. The doctor removes the lung portion that contains the tumor and the tissue around it. After surgery, some patients may require radiation or chemotherapy.

 

  • Radiotherapy

 

Doctors use a computer to guide high-energy ionizing rays to a tumor. This therapy is used in both non-small cells and small-cells lung tumors. Patients usually undergo radiation treatment across several weeks, for alternative days. Doctors may prescribe it to shrink a tumor before surgery to make it easier to remove or to destroy any cancer cells that are left behind after surgery. Coupled with chemotherapy, this can also help alleviate some of the lung cancer signs, such as pain or bleeding.

 

  • Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy medicines destroy the body’s cancer cells. Patients may get chemotherapy before or after surgery, and is typically combined with a few rounds of radiation therapy. Doctors can prescribe one form of chemotherapy or a mixture of different chemotherapy, which can be administered through intravenous (IV) at the best cancer hospitals. A few rounds of treatment may be expected over several weeks.

Stages of Lung Cancer

  • Stage 0

 

Stage 0 is typically curable by surgery alone. It does not require chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Treatments such as CTC, X-ray, radiation. Laser therapy or brachytherapy (internal radiation) can be alternatives to surgery for certain stage 0 cancers.

 

  • Stage I

 

When you have stage I, surgery may be the only care you need. This can be accomplished either by removing the lung lobe that has the tumor (lobectomy), or by removing a smaller portion of the lung (resection of the arm, segmentectomy, or wedge). Doctors may also remove at least some lymph nodes in the lung and the area between the lungs.

 

  • Stage II

 

Patients who have stage II and are well enough for surgery typically have cancer removed by lobectomy or resection of the arm. The entire lung is often needed to be removed (pneumonectomy). This would also kill any lymph nodes known to have cancer in them. The nature of the presence of the lymph nodes and whether or not cancer cells are present at the edges of the tissues removed are critical considerations when preparing the next treatment phase.

 

  • Stage III

 

In Stage III, lung cancer has spread to lymph nodes, to the other lung and may have also spread into essential chest structures. Some cancers aren’t entirely reversible by surgery. Treatment, as with other stages of lung cancer, is dependent on the general health of the patient. If you are in relatively good health, chemotherapy (chemotherapy), in combination with radiation therapy, can help you.

 

  • Stage IV 

 

Stage IV means cancer has spread to areas that are difficult to treat. Treatment options depend on the areas to which the cancer has spread, size of the tumors, and the general health of the patient. If the patient is in good health, therapies such as chemotherapy (chemotherapy), laser therapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy will help to live longer and make them feel better by relieving the symptoms, even though a complete cure is unlikely. 

Life in Remission

The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the form of medicines used, the dose, and the general health of a patient. The side effects of radiation depend on the radiation dose given, the area where the radiation was administered, and whether the radiation was internal or external.

 

Here are a few of the side effects of these lung cancer therapies:

 

  • Fatigue

 

The most common side effect of both chemotherapy and radiation is tiredness (fatigue). Even the most healthy individuals are likely to be tired, and maybe even a little “foggy” during treatment — and probably afterwards as well. This is perfectly natural. Encourage the patient to relax as much as possible and cut back on events. With optimal care, energy will revert back with time. 

 

  • Pain

 

Many chemo medications cause headaches, muscle pains, stomach pains, or even transient nerve damage, which may lead to the burning of hands and feet, numbness, or tingling. If this happens, your cancer hospital doctor may prescribe medicines that may be of assistance. However, avoid using over-the-counter or herbal medicines without approval from your doctor, as these can interfere with chemo drugs.

 

  • Gastrointestinal

 

It is understood that certain forms of chemo medicines cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, or diarrhea. A lot of those effects can be avoided or relieved by medicines. It is also normal for patients to find that when on Chemo, their taste preferences shift (for example, they can’t handle certain smells).

 

  • Changes in Skin

 

Chemo medicines typically cause rashes, redness, and other skin irritation. Radiation alone may cause similar symptoms in the treatment area, along with blisters, peeling, and swelling. 

 

  • Weight Loss or Weight Gain

 

Many patients suffer from weight loss or weight gain. It is normal for people who take steroids to have an elevated appetite and gain weight in odd areas, such as the cheeks or back. Many patients may have reduced appetite or may have difficulty holding food down (especially if they feel nauseated after the Chemo).

 

  • Hair Loss

 

Hair thinning and hair loss can occur all over the body during Chemotherapy. Radiation therapy can also cause hair loss in specific areas. Yet radiation does not cause hair to fall off from the head.

 

  • Anemia

 

Chemotherapy medicines and radiation can attack healthy blood cells and cause harm to new ones created by the body. Low levels of red blood cells can lead to anemia that causes tiredness, paleness, shortness of breath, and rapid heartbeat.

 

  • Blood Clotting

 

Cells that allow blood to clot, called platelets, are another form of blood cell that can be affected primarily because of Chemo, during cancer treatment. Low platelets may cause bleeding or thrombocytopenia. It may cause small red patches on the skin, vomiting or bleeding from the nose, or gums.

How can ZenOnco.io help?

As a lung cancer survivor, you’re happy to return to good health following your cancer diagnosis. Yet, there are steps you should take to strengthen your long-term health after your initial treatment so that you can appreciate the years ahead as a cancer survivor. Follow these simple steps:

 

1.Exercise

 

Regular exercise after cancer diagnosis increases your sense of well-being and will accelerate your recovery.

 

When you exercise, you will experience:

  • Increased strength and stamina
  • Decreased signs and symptoms of depression
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Increased healthy sleeping habits

 

Incorporating physical activity into your everyday life doesn’t take much extra time. Reflect on small steps to lead a more healthy life. Take the stairs more often or park further from your destination and walk the rest of the way.

 

2.Have a Balanced Diet

 

Enhance your diet by including plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

  • Eat at least 2.5 cups of fruit and vegetables daily
  • Choose healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in tuna and walnuts
  • Select low-saturated proteins, such as seafood, lean meats, eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes
  • Go for healthier carbohydrate sources, such as whole grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables

 

Choosing such a healthy combination of nutrients will ensure you get the dose of the vitamins and nutrients you need to help keep your body healthy.

 

3.Maintain Good Weight

 

You may have gained weight through recovery or lost weight. Try bringing your weight to a good level. Speak to your doctor about what would be a healthy weight for you, and the best way to achieve that target.

 

 

4.Cancer proof your home:

 

 

Try to live a lifestyle which is free of carcinogenic compounds. Choose organic products and check the radon levels of your home and workplace to lead a cancer-free life. It is imperative to life healthily and making the right decisions when choosing home products and making lifestyle choices. 

 

5.Get Community Support

 

ZenOnco.io’s community support group aims to help you with the difficulties you have faced while communicating your problems and mental state with others. Group members at the community support group discuss what worked for them, often explaining to you how they marked milestones along the way, such as the beginning and completion of treatments, and other things related to their illness or recovery.

 

Visit ZenOnco.io’s official website to learn more about our wellness programs and join our community support group for guidance to lead a healthy life.