What is Lung Cancer?
Uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs is known as lung cancer. The growth of these abnormal cells can be detrimental for the normal functioning lung tissue. Thus uncontrolled growth can thereafter affect the oxygenation of the entire lung, as these tumor cells don’t function like normal lung tissue.
Symptoms Of Lung Cancer
The signs and symptoms of lung cancer can take months to years to develop.
Therefore till today mostly the symptoms appear until very late in the natural course of disease.
- Persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- Changes in the voice or being hoarse
- Recurrent lung problems, such as bronchitis or pneumonia
- Coughing up phlegm or mucus, especially if it is tinged with blood
- Coughing up blood
- Pain in the chest, shoulder, or back
These are symptoms mainly due to local or parent tumor. If it spreads to other places in the body, the symptoms pertaining to those organs may appear. Common places for lung cancer to spread include other parts of the lungs, lymph nodes, bones, brain, liver, and adrenal glands.
Symptoms occurring due to spread of tumor in body:
- Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
- Cachexia and fatigue
- Bone or joint pain, fractures
- Brain metastasis may lead to headache, unsteady gait/memory loss
- Blood clots/blockage of vessels leading to neck/facial swelling
Diagnosing Lung Cancer
The diagnosis of lung cancer is made by biopsy. Herein a small piece of tissue from the lung is examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells. The procedure of getting a biopsy can be done in many different ways.
Types Of Lung Cancer
There are two major types of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC).
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
- Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for about 85% of lung cancers. Among them are these types of tumors:
- Adenocarcinoma is the most common form of lung cancer in the United States among both men and women.
Small Cell Lung Cancer
- Small cell lung cancer accounts for the remaining 15% of lung cancers in the United States. Smoking is more strongly
associated with small cell lung cancer. It grows more rapidly and spreads to other parts of the body earlier than non-small cell
lung cancer. The mainstay of its treatment is by chemotherapy.
Types Of Lung Cancer
The most important and common risk factor for lung cancer is smoking tobacco. Nearly 8 out of 10 of all lung cancers are smoking-related. The best way to decrease the risk is to quit smoking.
Exposure to secondhand smoke also increases the risk of lung cancer, increasing their risk of developing lung cancer by 20 percent to 30 percent. Secondhand smoke also increases the risk of heart disease and other ailments.
Other environmental substances or exposures that can increase the risk of developing lung cancer include:
- Industrial substances can include arsenic, uranium, beryllium, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas,
chloromethyl ethers, gasoline, and diesel exhaust.
- Radiation exposure
- Air pollution
- Tuberculosis can cause scarring of lung tissue, which can be a risk factor for developing lung cancer.
- Genetics can also play a role in the development of lung cancer through inherited or environmentally acquired gene mutations.