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Diseases & Conditions

Lung Cancer

Lung CancerCausesMedicationsPreventionRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatmentTypes

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is a disease involving uncontrolled growth of cells in the lung-tissue. This growth in turn leads to metastasis, which involves the invasion into adjacent tissue and its subsequent infiltration to other parts beyond the lungs.

Causes of Lung Cancer

It is a known fact that smoking causes lung cancer as tobacco contains substances that are known carcinogens. The risk of developing lung cancer is also high in passive-smokers. The other known causes of lung cancer which is not related in any way to smoking is as follows:

  • Over exposure to radiation on account of one’s profession or having had medical treatments in the past.
  • Working in an environment that is exposed to asbestos, and products involving coal, arsenic, vinyl chloride, nickel chromate etc which are extremely harmful to the body. Working in the construction industry or in mines can also cause lung cancer.
  • In certain areas the poisonous gas, Radon, occurs naturally in the rocks and soil. Radon is known to be a cause of lung cancer.
  • After serious research it has been deduced that certain sections of people whose body is unable to deal with certain chemicals that cause cancer are more at a risk of developing it. The immune system of such people instead of neutralizing some particular cancer-causing agents within the body, make them more aggressive.

Medications for Lung Cancer

Some of the medications used for treating lung cancers are as follows:

Chemotherapy: Some of the most commonly used medicines in chemotherapy to treat lung cancer are Carboplatin, Irinotecan, Topotecan, Gemcitabine, Vinorelbine, Cisplatin etc. Some intravenous drugs, like Bevacizumab, prevent blood vessels that supple nutrients to the tumor from forming. In this way the tumor that causes the lung cancer is prevented from growing and multiplying. On the other hand, if bevacizumab is administered along with Chemotherapy, it increases the life expectancy of people suffering from advanced lung cancer. Although it is known to cause serious side effects, when used along with the drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel, it has now been allowed for the treatment of lung-cancer.

Prevention of Lung Cancer

Different ways to prevent cancer are as follows:

  • Lung cancer can be prevented by changing a few simple life-style and eating habits. Cultivating and maintaining a non-smoking habit is one of them. One should also avoid being a passive smoker as second-hand smoke proves to be equally damaging in the long run.
  • One should avoid things that are known to be cancer causing or having carcinogens.
  • One should diligently take medicines and continue the treatment for a precancerous condition. This also applies to the situation where there is a potential of a cancer starting.

Risk factors of Lung Cancer

The risk factors in lung cancer development are:

  • Smoking and second-hand smoke
  • Asbestos exposure
  • Use of beta carotene
  • Exposure to radon
  • A family history of lung cancers

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

The symptoms associated with lung cancer are:

  • The worsening of an existing chronic cough,
  • Appearance of blood in the sputum,
  • Repeated respiratory infections including persistent bronchitis,
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing and other unexplained breathing difficulties
  • Unexplained fatigue

Treatment for Lung Cancer

Surgery Used to Treat Lung Cancer:

  • Wedge Resection: In this surgery along with the tumor a small portion of healthy tissue that is surrounding it is taken out.
  • Lobectomy: When the whole part of the affected lung is taken out surgically the procedure is known as Lobectomy.
  • Pneumonectomy: This procedure involves the removal of the entire affected lung.
  • Sleeve Resection: The surgical procedure wherein a part of the bronchus is removed is known as sleeve resection.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is administered to cancer patients usually through an IV drip or in the form of tablets. It is a therapy that uses drugs to kill or prevent cancer cells from dividing as may be the case.
  • Radiation Therapy: When certain types of energy are used to shrink the tumors or kill the cancer cells the procedure is known as radiation therapy.

Types of Lung Cancer

The two main types of lung cancer are as follows:

A) NON-SMALL CELL LUNG CANCER (NSCLC): This accounts for about 80% of lung cancers. It includes:

  • Bronchioalveolar carcinoma.
  • Large-cell undifferentiated carcinoma.
  • Adenocarcinoma.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (epidermoid carcinoma).

B) SMALL CELL LUNG CANCER (SCLC): This accounts for the rest 20% of all lung cancers.